|Winter 2006 Issue16|
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| S Korea, U S to Strengthen Cooperation Against Cyber Crimes
UNESCO Preparing Standards for Integrating ICT into Teaching
S Korea, U S to Strengthen Cooperation Against Cyber Crimes
Republic of Korea Rated No. 1 in E-government Rankings
ICT Industry Growth Set to Increase by 6% in 2006, Says OECD
Google Launches New Mobile Gmail
Asian Industry Experts Predict Future Success of Mobile Messaging
Singapore to Share E-government Solutions with Developing Countries
ITU Collaboration to Boost ICT in Developing Countries
PixSense Recognized as Best Communications Applications Finalist at 2006 Asia Pacific ICT Awards
WiMAX Poised for Rapid Growth Despite Major Challenges
Mobile and Internet Connectivity Improves in Least Developed Countries
World's Poorest Nations Slowly Get Online
Widespread Growth Likely in Global ICT Sector: OECD Report Predicts Heady Times Ahead
Int'l Standardization Agency Adopts Korea's Ubiquitous Home Network Services
Cyber-crimes Grab Millions
Broadband Becoming the New Utility Like Water and Electricity
WCIT 2008 Can Benefit SMEs
Government Technology Forum 2006
China-Japan-ROK Robot Technology Seminar in Beijing
KM Asia 2006: The Number One Knowledge Management Event in the Asia-Pacific Region
World Renowned IT Symposium
6th Annual Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region (CIAPR VI)
E-Society Conference Opens
International Conference on E-Governance
| AZERBAIJAN: Fees on Internet Domains to Go Down
CHINA: Plans Outlined for Breakthrough in Info Industry
Digital TV Standard Announced
Real-name System for Mobile Users to Start
Taiwan Committed to Reducing Digital Gap
Municipality Issues Regs Banning On-line Defamation
HK Rolls Out Road Map for Digital City
China Launches Patented Cellphone TV Technology Standard
China Telecom and China Mobile to Invest USD 5 Bln in Shanghai's Informatization
China Unicom Prepares for 3G
JAPAN: Gov't to Ok Internet Access via Power Lines
Govt Scraps Online Passport Applications
Gov't Panel Mulls Ban on Net Auctions of Pirated Products
Social-Networking Site to Be Used for Japan Govt Panel Debate
Japan Considers Ban on Online Ads for Pirated CDs, DVDs
Ministry Probes IP Phone Provider
Japan Sets Up Panel to Study Net Neutrality
Yano Issues Fiber-Optic Telecommunication Market in Japan 2006 Report
KYRGYZSTAN: Parliament Adopts Freedom of Information Bill
SOUTH KOREA: Cyberspace Law, Role of Internet Focus of Forum
Consular Network Formed to Protect Koreans Overseas
FTC E-commerce Guidelines Expanded to Make M-shopping Safe
Gov't to Set Up E-search System for Overseas Marketing Information
KAZAKHSTAN: Measures to Reduce Technological Losses on Transmission Facilities Needed
|INDONESIA: New IT Council Plans an Information-based Society
PHILIPPINES: President Pushes ICT Skills for Youth
NTC Issues Draft Digital TV Regulations
Congress Sets Public Discussion on Open Source Legislation
SINGAPORE: New Information and Knowledge Era Initiative
Singapore Announces Programme to Develop Government IT Manpower
| BANGLADESH: All Primary Schools to Get Free Internet in 10 Years: US Company Inks $60m Deal with ICT Ministry
INDIA: Civil Society Contribution to ICT Policy Development Sought
3G Services to Be Launched by Second Half of 2007
Maran Releases E-gov Roadmaps for 15 States
Skoch to Roll Out First Ever E-Governance Census Talk Back?
Union Cabinet Approves Amendment to the Information Technology Act, 2000
Indian Govt Delays Proposal to Amend Right to Info Law
India: First South Asian Nation with Community Radio Policy
E-Governance Department Offers SMS Alert for Indian Farmers
Innovations Bridge the Divide in Two India's
PAKISTAN: ICT Policy Monitor Group Featured on Telecentre.org
Strategy for IT Proliferation for Economic Growth
South Asia Needs to Talk Across Borders to Solve Language Issue
| AUSTRALIA: Government Media Reforms to Be Introduced to Parliament
Watchdog Eyes Net Rules
Big 3G Stoush Expected Next Year
Poddies Crooks Under Copyright Law
No Help in Switch to Digital
Ready, Set, Go to Digital 每 A Digital Action Plan for Australia
FIJI: National Archives Project Progresses
NEW ZEALAND: Government Relaunches Its E-strategy
CHINA: Largest Government-run E-business Site Opens
Computer Software Help Judges
China Opens Internet Portal on Popular Medical Science
China Launches Website in Response to EU Rules
Authorities Act to Prevent Teenage Internet Addiction
China Sets Up Anti-malicious Software Working Group
Taipei Mayor Shares Experience in Developing a Cyber City
Internet League Launched to Help Graduates Find Jobs
IRAN: Telecom Infrastructure Ready for E-Commerce Expansion
JAPAN: Rakuten Eyes Overseas Expansion in E-Commerce
SOUTH KOREA: Online Procurement System Boosts Transparency to World-Class Level
Information Protection Knowledge Portal Put into Operation
Korea Receives E-government Award
Financial Supervisory Commission Unveils New English Homepage
KAZAKHSTAN: Defence Ministry Gets Electronic Digital Signature
UZBEKISTAN: Linguist Launches E-Dictionary
| INDONESIA: Govt Asked to Use E-payment System
Govt Establishing Online Identification System
Using Security Equipment Technology to Prevent Terror
Internet Security Committee to Start Work Next March
MYANMAR: Strive to Improve Public Internet Services to Push ICT Development
MALAYSIA: E-learning for Customs Staff
OCBC Top Online Bank for Second Year
PHILIPPINES: DepEd to Bat for Integrating ICT in Basic Courses
DepEd Plans to Set Up 300 Library Hubs
RP Group Wants to Push IT Governance in Public Sector
SINGAPORE: Government Agencies to Have Greater Online Security
New Family Website Launched for IT-Savvy Parents
IE Singapore Launches BuySingapore Portal for Local SMEs
E-portal Is a Hit as Teenagers Find an Online 'Family'
22 Centres with Internet Access to Govt Services Open to Public
THAILAND: Portal Aims for 1M Users Nationwide
VIET NAM: E-commerce Growth Hindered by Limited Use of Credit Cards
| BANGLADESH: Key Government Bodies Denies Its Entry into E-Governance Era
＆IT Best Means of Power to Eliminate Poverty＊: Says Feroz Mahmud
E-governance for Efficiency
Bangladesh to Introduce Automated Fingerprint Identification System to Identify Criminals
INDIA: Orissa Government＊s E-Shishu Project Wins India-Tech Excellence Awardby
Network of 5,000 Broadband-Enabled Rural Kiosks
Rajasthan Stands as One of Front-Runner States in E-Governance Space
India: E-governance to Be Operational in 3 Yrs
Uttaranchal to Set Up 3 Sezs - Will Offer Various Incentives to Information Technology Companies That Will Establish Units in the Doon Cyber Tower IT Park
E-Filing to Be Introduced for Indian Corporates
National Knowledge Commission to Recommend Setting Up Web Portals and GIS Mapping in India
State Bank of Travancore in India Launches E-payment of Taxes
West Bengal Government to Introduce E-Banking & E-Agri
Punjab First State to Implement National E-Governance Plan
E-Governance Outlay Set to Grow Manifold
6 Projects in Andhra Pradesh (India) Are in Race of E-Governance Awards
NEPAL: Adhikari Highlights the Importance of ICT
PAKISTAN: Geared to Be Hub of IT Trade
Government Urged to Set Up 'Allama Lqbal Cyber City' in Sialkot
$3 Billion Investment in IT Sector Seen
NIIT, India and DSTA, Singapore Tie Up for E-Governance
|AUSTRALIA: Greater Reliability for ABC Local Radio in Victoria
$600m for Bush Broadband
Centrelink Begins SMS Reminders
Apprenticeship Launch to Boost ICT Opportunities in Queanbeyan and the ACT
$116m Defence Project in Limbo
National Talks on Fire Alert System
$66,000 Fine to Protect Privacy
NEW ZEALAND: New Website for Parliament
NEW ZEALAND: Grassroots Boost for 'Bottom-Up' Info-Sharing
Government Moves on Wireless Broadband
| CHINA: Online Advertising to Hit Over 4 Bln Yuan in 2006
Digital Broadcast System Launched for Games
Shanghai Set for IPTV Rollout
ICBC Introduces E-banking Code Card
China Leads Next Generation Internet Development
Internet Users Ally to Sue 'Rogue Software' Producer
China Targets US$10 Bln Software Exports by 2010
Web Page Designing Contest Draws 5,000 Elderly Participants in Shanghai
China to Develop Digital TV Industry
Beijing and EMC Partner on Digital City Initiatives
Shenzhen's 1st Online Interview System in Service
Taiwan Keen to Expand Digitalization Programme Among APEC Members
China Launches New Interactive Broadband Network
Digital Pay-TV Service Covers 150 Chinese Cities
Electric Door Guard Sparks Debate
1st Legal Website for Free Movie Downloads
IRAN: First Tourism Website Launched
Banned Iranian Website Back Online
Iran Launches First Private Mobile Network
IT Growth Low
Private Sector Active in Cellphone Equipment Production
JAPAN: Easy Net Access a Threat to Radio and Space Sounds
Billions Earned Online Go Unreported
Transplant Fund-raising Attacked on Web
Internet Hotline Gets 14,400 Reports of Potentially Illegal Content
Japan's KDDI Launching Digital Radio Service for Mobile Phones
Meteorological Agency Web Site Snafu over Tsunami Warnings
SOUTH KOREA: Russia May Install Korean Wireless Internet Technology
Google Plans Its First R&D Plant in Korea
Korea Ranks 1st in IT Export Ratio Among Advanced Economies: OECD Report
Samsung Takes a Big Step with Chip
Internet to Be Available on Subway from 2007 in Seoul
Some Spamming Can Save Lives
Portals Spend More Money on Content
Web Site Will Serve Foreign Investors
KAZAKHSTAN: President Opens High-Tech Park
UZBEKISTAN: ICT Taking Root in Uzbekistan
| INDONESIA: Begin Rolling Out 3G Service
E-learning: Much More Than Distance Learning
MALAYSIA: I-Bhd, Intel Provide Digital Infrastructure at I-City
Maxis Set to Launch Broadband for Homes
＆Internet-Ready Access Centres＊ in Schools
Schools, Community Centre to Get E-learning Opportunity
PHILIPPINES: Demand for 3G Seen to Pick Up Next Year
Online Medical Library Launched
SINGAPORE: General Practitioners Go Electronic
Singapore InfoComm Technology Companies Leverage on Boom in Financial Services
SCDF to Provide Emergency Safety Tips Via Mobile Phone Downloads
Singapore's High Net Worth Individuals 3rd Most Wealthy in Asia
NYGH First Singapore School to Join Online Educational Community
Singapore's Pacific Internet Launches Wireless Bandwidth Management for Customers
Singtel Tops 100 Million Mobile Subscribers
4 Companies Receive Top Awards for Innovative Infocomm Technology Use
16 Outstanding Researchers Receive Science & Tech Awards
THAILAND: IT Through the Ages
New Software Supports E-learning
VIET NAM: E-Banking Developing Rapidly in Ho Chi Minh City
| BANGLADESH: Online Service for Detection of Breast Cancer in Rural Women
Theatre and ICT Used to Teach About Community Radio in Bangladesh
Bangladesh Emerges as One of Asia's Top 10 Mobile Markets
Teaching Value of Community Radio by YCMC in Rural Bangladesh
BHUTAN: ADB Loan to Improve Infrastructure of Cities
INDIA: Upgrading IT Skills Has Emerged as India＊s Largest E-Learning Implementation Company
Smart Cards in Place of Driving Licences in Hyderabad (India) Soon
Now File 'e-Returns', First Time in Country
Community Channel Launches Online Social Networking for Charities
FM Launches E-filing of Income Tax Returns
Digitalise Campuses for Higher Visions
Microsoft＊s Mega Project for Rural India
Delhi to Go Wi-Fi
E-Learning Comes of Age in India with 'Sakshat'
A Digital Face for Grassroots
The ICT Sector in State on the Upswing
SRI LANKA: National ICT Week Celebrated
NEPAL: Cell Phone Jammers to Be Installed in Punjab Jails
PAKISTAN: Penetration of ICT in Rural Communities
Latest Wireless Technology Comes to Pakistan
Pakistan Ready to Connect Rural Regions Through Wireless Networking and FOSS in Telecenters
＆Internet Media City＊ Project Soon
| AUSTRALIA: Content Safeguards Extended to Mobile Phones
Polling Booths Site for Poor Eyes
Greater Reliability for ABC Regional Television in Victoria
Broadband Take-Up Strong and Steady: ACCC
Commissioner Commends Improved Phone Access for People with Disabilities
TV Report off Limits
Watchdog Warns on Broadband
Candidates, Parties Target Web Audience
ADSL2+ Plan Puts Heat on Telstra
Brisbane Innovation to Make Sharing Data Online Safer
Innovative Software Helps Reading, Writing and Speech
ID Card to Offer Digital Wallet
More College Students Taking Web Courses
Telstra Launches Upgraded Broadband Network
ID Card to End Paper Chase
Private Sector Drag Chain on Encryption Smarts
Australia Faces E-Waste Mountain
NSW IT Cost Blow-Outs Continue
Coonan Singles Out ABC for Praise
Australian Economy $15.2 Billion Larger Thanks to Telco Reforms
More and Better Digital Television for Rural West Australians
.Nz Domain Names Soar
NZ's Roamad Wins Dominican Republic Contract
Telecom Launches Video Phone
Explosive Growth in Digital Music Industry
Small Businesses Face Barriers to E-Commerce
One Decision and Woosh - Telco Loses Its Spectrum
| CHINA: International Industry Fair Opens in Shanghai
Digital Media Entertainment Expo to Open in Hong Kong
High-tech Fair Draws 450,000 Visitors
China to Set Up 18 Patented Technology Exhibition, Trade Centers
China Home Entertainment Fair Opens in Guangzhou
IRAN: Software Sector Lacking State Support
JAPAN: Talks on E-waste Pollution, Recycling in Asia to Be Held in Tokyo
SOUTH KOREA: PPS Chief to Brief Foreign Figures on E-procurement
Adobe: Computers Will ＆Memorize' Web Data Without Net Connection
MONGOLIA: Open Information Day of Ministry Held
UZBEKISTAN: CIS Officials to Discuss Information Security in Tashkent
Fourth National ICT Summit Opens in Tashkent
Presentation of East-Linux Operating System Held in Tashkent
|SINGAPORE: Interactive Exhibit on Singapore's IT Journey Kicks Off Wednesday Governmentware Conference to Be Held in Singapore VIET NAM: Ha Noi Hosts International Software-writing Contest|
| INDIA: Three-day International Workshop on E-learning
NEPAL: Prioritising ICT at Global Meet
|AUSTRALIA: Brawl Brewing on Feds' Blueprint City Council Plugs in to Future Launch of Collaborative Online Security Initiative|
SEOUL, Nov. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States have agreed to make joint efforts to root out cyber crimes, South Korean officials said Monday. "The U. S. investigative officials felt there was much to learn from internet-savvy South Korea's experiences in tackling online crimes," Lee Chun-seong, an official at the Korean National Police Agency, said. "We, in turn, thought we could learn much from the U. S. advanced technology." Lee said his agency's Cyber Terror Response Center is expected to reach agreement Tuesday with the U. S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, pledging to further exchange know-how and human resources on cyber investigation. "We've been working on this for about a year, and if agreed on, it will help us to more effectively crack down on increasing online crimes," he said. South Korea is the world's most wired country, with more than 38 million of its 48.5 million people having access to high-speed Internet connections.
UNESCO will soon make available a set of ※ICT Competency Standards for Teachers§ that have been under preparation as part of a long-term project to enhance the professional development of teachers. The ※Competency Standards§ will define the standard ICT skills required by teachers, and will combine methods for improving ICT skills with emergent views in pedagogy, curriculum and school organization. These standards are the result of the extensive work by UNESCO and project partners, including Microsoft, Intel and Cisco Systems. UNESCO sees the professional development of teachers as a particularly important component of educational improvement. The project aims to improve teacher practice, in particular, teachers＊ classroom activities, so as to foster higher quality education, with the ultimate goal being to produce a better informed citizenry and higher quality workforce that can, as a result, advance a country＊s economic and social development. ( by Nilay Ranjan )
The Information Economy Report 2006: The Development Perspective provides unique data on the adoption of ICT by enterprises in developing countries. It also explores ICT policy options in a developing-country context and proposes a framework for national ICT policy reviews and for the design and assessment of pro-poor e-strategies. The Report∩s analysis of trends in core ICT indicators such as the use of Internet and mobile phone, as well as the role of broadband in promoting the information economy, concludes that the diffusion of ICT in developing countries still needs government intervention in areas where private providers might be discouraged to go because of costs associated to geographic hurdles or the absence of a critical mass of customers. Other conclusions are that broadband is key to developing an information economy, and that industrial and trade policies in ICT-producing developing countries should support the creation of business opportunities in ICT-related industries. UNCTAD∩s research on measuring the impact of ICTs on GDP in developing countries reveals a positive contribution even in poorer countries. But countries that already have a certain level of ICT uptake seem to benefit most from the new technologies. The Report presents a model ICT policy review framework developed by UNCTAD which is illustrated with best practice examples from developing countries. Conducting ICT policy reviews, as recommended in the Report, would enable governments to understand the policy challenges and opportunities, and quantify the main achievements regarding the implementation of the national ICT plan; identify critical success factors, best practices and conditions, as well as reasons for failure, in order to be able to adjust and reform their ICT policies; and formulate new and targeted policy decisions to support and accelerate ICT diffusion.
Korea ranks No. 1 among 198 countries worldwide in online government services this year, a state-run trade promotion agency said Monday (Sept. 5), citing a report from Brown University in the United States. According to the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), the report showed that Korea, which ranked 86th in 2005 and 32nd in 2004, drastically improved its e-government performance in a number of areas, including disability access, existence of publications and databases, presence of privacy and security policies and contact information. The Korean government offices' websites provide a variety of online services such as tax reports, lists of successful candidates for state exams and reunions of separated families in South and North Korea. PDA access, user fees and foreign language translation were also among the merits, according to the report. Other nations with advanced e-government features were Taiwan, Singapore, the U.S. and Canada, which ranked second through fifth, respectively. North Korea ranked 17th, up from 183rd last year, thanks to upgraded online services, including access to databases. The study by Brown University's Taubman Center for Public Policy of 1,782 government websites was conducted between June and July this year. Researchers analyzed diverse sites, including executive, legislative and judicial offices as well as ministries. The center has released global e-government rankings since 2001.
The ICT industry is expected to grow by 6% in 2006 and, looking ahead, highest growth will be driven by Internet-related investments, Linux servers, digital storage, personal digital assistants and new portable consumer products. But any return to the heady days of 20% and 30% growth in many products and market segments in the 1990s are unlikely, according to the latest edition of the OECD＊s Information Technology Outlook 2006.ICT trade is also growing even faster than production and sales. There is a shift in manufacturing activities within the OECD area, particularly towards assembly in Mexico and Eastern European. Between 1996 and 2004, total OECD ICT goods trade increased by 6.5% a year, while that of Mexico and Eastern European OECD countries increased by 17.4% a year. With the emergence of new growth economies in Eastern European and non-OECD developing countries, world ICT spending was up 5.6% a year between 2000 and 2005. China was the sixth largest ICT market in 2005 at USD 118 billion (after the United States, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom and France), although total ICT spending there is still only about one-tenth of the United States but about two and a half times the spending of India (USD 46 billion). ICT spending in non-OECD countries is still more focused on hardware than on services as the basic physical ICT infrastructure is still being built.
After overtaking the United States in 2004 as the world＊s leading ICT exporter, China has continued strong ICT exports in 2005 and 2006. China imports electronic components 每 now increasingly from other Asian countries 每 while exporting computer and related equipment, but technically more complex activities, such as design and testing and R&D, are also increasingly shifted to China. Chinese ICT firms are rapidly developing their production and export capacities despite their relatively limited size and technological know-how, and they are investing overseas (including in Eastern Europe) to obtain technology, brands and distribution channels. However, most Chinese ICT firms remain small compared to the largest global ICT firms. Technological and management gaps between Chinese and foreign firms, weak innovative capabilities and too great reliance on foreign technology are contributing factors, and R&D capacities will have to be boosted many-fold to catch up with global leaders from the US, Europe, Japan and Korea. These are among the findings of the OECD＊s Information Technology Outlook 2006, which reviews trends and developments in the IT industry and its impact on the economy and society. This edition includes analysis of the continuing internationalisation of the IT sector, developments in ICT-enabled international sourcing, with a focus on India, and the growth of the IT industry and Internet in China.
Google launched on Thursday a version of Gmail for mobile devices that lets U.S. users do in two clicks what previously took them 10 or more. Gmail for Mobile Devices is a free, downloadable Java application that will work on any Java-enabled mobile phone, of which there are about 300 in the United States, said Tony Hsieh, product manager for Google Mobile. The software improves on a version of Gmail released nearly a year ago that lets people access their e-mail through a mobile Web browser. Once the new Java application is installed on a phone, a person can quickly launch Gmail instead of having to open a mobile browser and wait for it to load before signing in, Hsieh said. In addition to being faster, Gmail for Mobile Devices maintains Gmail functions like threading and search, and adds mobile-specific functionality such as the ability to press a button to make a call to someone who sent an e-mail. People can also view attachments, such as photos, in an optimized full-screen format. "If it takes someone a minute or two or even longer to check e-mail on their phone, people probably won't do it," Hsieh said. With wireless application protocol browsers, it can take 11 clicks to delete or archive a message, but with the new application it will take just two, he said. There is no cost to download the application, but people will have to pay data charges to their mobile carriers. People can download the application by sending themselves a text message from the Google Web site, going to Gmail.com/app from their mobile browser or downloading it from the Sprint Nextel home page, according to Hsieh. ( by Elinor Mills )
A research study conducted by LogicaCMG telecoms among delegates at this year's Messaging Asia conference in Singapore has revealed that the future success of mobile messaging will be dependent upon closer interaction among mobile network operators, as well as with leading IM Internet players. The research, conducted with 40 senior figures from the mobile industry, shows that future successful mobile messaging will require operators to work closely together to deliver a common mobile IM community for end-users, regardless of their network. Messaging Asia, which began at the Raffles Convention Centre in Singapore Wednesday, is attended by senior business managers, analysts, marketers and technologists from major international network operators, vendors and manufacturers globally. During the show, LogicaCMG asked delegates for their thoughts on the future of mobile messaging over the next five years. Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of those questioned said they believed that interoperability with Internet instant messaging domains, such as Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger, GoogleTalk and AOL Instant Messenger was the most important factor for the success of mobile IM.
In addition, a further 35 per cent believe that interoperability with existing SMS and MMS services will be crucial. Delegates stressed that this integration needs to go beyond the user experience and even include revenue share of the services offered. When asked about new revenue sources for operators, 45 per cent of all respondents believed that service plans that include discounted messaging services in return for advertising would only produce minimal profit for the operator, with a further 20 per cent saying they saw no benefit at all. Boudewijn Pesch, managing director, LogicaCMG telecoms Asia, commented on the results: "This research has shown that a strong incentive exists for network operators to collaborate closely with one another, as well as with leading Internet players as they look to establish themselves in the mobile space. Ultimately the success of future mobile messaging strategies will be determined by the end-user, and if mutual relationships between operators and Internet players can lead to an increasingly seamless service then everyone will benefit."
Singapore has set up the Singapore e-Government Leadership Centre. Information, Communications and the Arts Minister Lee Boon Yang said this was to facilitate the sharing of its brand of e-government solutions with developing countries. The centre will train policy makers and telecoms regulators involved in information and communications technology. The leadership training centre will also offer programmes in the area of e-government strategy, policies and implementation. Dr Lee made the announcement at the International Telecommunication Union(ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference held in Ankara, Turkey. He also said that Singapore was willing to extend its training to ITU members and was holding discussions with Turkey's Bureau for Telecommunication Development.
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and the International Telecommunication Union have agreed today to collaborate in developing a new executive training programme in the area of information and communication technology (ICT) policy and regulation. ※This programme is expected to enable Singapore to share our experience in deploying ICT for the public, private and people sectors,§ said Dr Lee Boon Yang pictured left, Singapore＊s Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts. ※We are very happy to collaborate with ITU to help developing countries catalyse their ICT developments to bridge the Digital Divide§. He added that Singapore, with 25 years of experience in developing ICT, is fully aware of the benefits it can bring to social and economic development. ※The e-Government Leadership Centre provides a collaborative learning experience. Participants would have the opportunity to study and analyse the Singapore model and to derive relevant strategies for their own country＊s ICT development,§ Dr Lee shares. The enabling frameworks for ICT development; The Singapore Experience, will be conducted by practitioners from the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and its partners at the e-Government Leadership Centre, namely, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Institute of Systems Science in Singapore.
Experts from ITU and industry would also be invited as guest speakers. It is the aim of the programme to reach out to developing countries which, like Singapore, are keen to use ICT to further their social and economic growth. The programme is targeting the training of at least thirty to forty participants over the next three years. ※The idea is to provide a programme suited for senior ICT policy-makers and telecoms regulators who are keen to develop their own ICT framework to enable fair, effective and sustainable competition in a multi-operator, multi-network environment,§ said Dr Kim Eun-Ju, Head of the Asia-Pacific Regional Office. ※The programme would cover areas like ICT development policies, regulating a competitive ICT sector, licensing frameworks, dispute resolution procedures, and interconnection.§ Singapore is spearheading this initiative as it realises that ICT development in this fast-changing digital age can pose a formidable challenge for developing states.
While the proposed learning model will be based on Singapore＊s own Infocomm experience- the issues, the challenges and the successes, the intention is not to promote a single model of ICT development. Rather, the purpose would be to help participants better appreciate the complexities and challenges all countries face in drawing up their own ICT masterplan. This initiative goes hand-in-hand with the Asia-Pacific Regional Initiative on Telecommunication/ICT Policy and Regulatory Cooperation, which was proposed by the ITU members of the Asia-Pacific region and adopted at the World Telecommunication Development Conference at Doha in 2006, aiming to 1. Promote regulatory cooperation at the sub-regional and regional levels2. Assist members to develop various policy and regulatory skills and frameworks on common current telecommunication/ICT issues3. Establish and implement mechanisms for sharing and exchanging information, experiences and best practices.
PixSense today announced it has been chosen as a finalist for the Best Communications Applications category at the 2006 Asia Pacific Information and Communication Technology Awards (APICTA). PixSense received merits for its innovative mobile media solution that allows users to manage rich media created on their phone - directly from the handset - without the loss of quality.PixSense offers camera phone users a comprehensive solution at a practical price. Using its patent-pending compression technology to reduce the file size of photos and videos on the device, users are able to send this media at a much lower cost. PixSense offers users automated photo and video-uploading, smart categorization, automatic memory management, intelligent image quality enhancement, personal publishing and sharing services including phone-to-phone and phone-to-Web, storage, and full-featured galleries on both the Web and the phone."We are honored to have been recognized for our excellence and innovation," says Faraz Hoodbhoy, CEO of PixSense. "We are proud of the strides PixSense has made in the multimedia market, and this award reflects the strong acceptance we continue to receive."The Asia Pacific ICT Awards is an International Awards Program implemented to increase ICT awareness in the community and assist in bridging the Digital Divide. The Best Communications Applications winners were selected based on their innovation in developing applications that relate with any transmission of intelligence by digital or analog, electromagnetic or electronic signals through existing and emerging media.
WiMAX technology is entering a rapid growth phase, as service providers are now able to buy WiMAX Forum-certified equipment, reports In-Stat. Worldwide subscribers are estimated to reach 222,000 in 2006 and are forecasted to grow to 19.7 million by the end of 2010, the high-tech market research firm says. Most of those subscribers are in the Asia/Pacific region. Almost all subscribers are using a fixed service today, with the exception of those in South Korea. "While WiMAX faces many challenges, the biggest challenge still comes from competing technologies and services," says Daryl Schoolar, In-Stat analyst. "WiMAX will have difficulty competing in areas that already have established broadband services. WiMAX will need to provide a demonstratively superior service to win customers from the incumbent provider. Much of WiMAX's early success will come from under-developed regions of the globe."
State-of-the-art information and communication technologies (ICT) can empower people to achieve their development aspirations through information and knowledge. During the past five years, many of the least developed countries (LDCs) have made remarkable progress in achieving the ICT connectivity targets set out in the Brussels Plan of Action for Least Developed Countries. These targets have been met by 25 of the 50 LDCs. The mobile sector in LDCs has grown considerably and access to the internet has also increased, providing a host of applications, such as e-education, e-health, e-business, e-agriculture, and e-government to tie in with the goals and objectives of the World Summit on the Information Society. The International Telecommunication Union will launch a report in New York on 13 September 2006 on ICT/Telecommunication development in least developed countries. The report examines key developments in the ICT and telecommunications sector including trends and challenges in the world＊s poorest countries in the period 2001 to 2005. The ITU report will be unveiled during a special session on "Integrating Least Developed Countries (LDCs) into the world economy through telecommunications/ICT" to be held during the Mid-Term Review on implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries for the decade 2001-2010.
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 18 (IPS) - An African diplomat from one of the world's 50 poorest nations, described as least developed countries (LDCs), once complained that it took about five to 10 years to get a landline telephone connection in his home country -- and an additional five years to get a dial tone on the new phone. But since the widespread availability of hand-held cellular phones over the last five years, most of the world's LDCs have made a quantum leap forward from one extreme to another: from no landline phones to an abundance of wireless phones. In its landmark Brussels programme of action (BPoA) adopted at a conference of LDCs in the Belgium capital in May 2001, the United Nations set a target for infrastructure development: increasing average telephone density in LDCs to five main lines per 100 inhabitants and internet connections to 10 users per 100 inhabitants by the year 2010. In a report to the two-day high level meeting on LDCs Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says "access to telephones and computers in LDCs has increased rapidly, suggesting that targets for telephone density and internet connections in the BPoA might be met."
"Dissemination of these technologies has reached rural areas and even the poorest," Annan said, pointing out that evidence suggests that use of such technologies has had a direct impact on poverty through various channels. Although "LDCs remain far behind the rest of the world in the use of new technologies," he noted, "the recent progress demonstrates the speed with which information and communications technologies can be introduced, and how they can improve the welfare of individuals in LDCs, including by reducing poverty and gender inequality." In 2000, there were only 17 LDCs with one or more internet connections per 100 inhabitants. In 2006, internet use has grown by three to 10 times, although still below one per 100 in 25 LDCs, according to the latest figures released Friday by the United Nations. In a study released in July, the Geneva-based U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said LDCs still suffer from infrastructure weaknesses. Speaking on behalf of the 25-member European Union (EU), Finnish Labour Minister Tarja Filatov told delegates Monday that strengthening and expanding the productive capacities and infrastructure of the LDCs is necessary for regional integration, increased internal and international trade and economic growth and development.
To meet these challenges, she said, the EU has adopted a new "Strategy for Africa" which includes an initiative on an EU-Africa Partnership for Infrastructure. This partnership will include investments in electronic communications infrastructure and services. Meanwhile, the Geneva-based International Telecommunication Union (ITU) says that "teledensity has more than doubled in the majority of LDCs since 2000, with some of them boosting connectivity by as much as 20 times." The rapid growth is attributed primarily to the deployment of mobile technologies. The race towards universal access in LDCs has been mainly led by LDCs such as Cape Verde, Maldives and Samoa, and small to average sized countries such as Gambia, Lesotho and Mauritania -- "some of which have achieved teledensities of up to 44 lines per 100 inhabitants surpassing many developing countries." In a report released Monday, ITU said considerable progress has been made to bridge the digital divide and that teledensity targets set by the Brussels Programme of Action have been met by 25 of the 50 LDCs. "The mobile sector in LDCs has grown considerably against fixed lines over the last few years, and the number of mobile subscribers almost doubled in 2005," said Cosmas Zavazava, head of ITUs Unit for LDCs, Small Island Developing States and Emergency Telecommunications. In a statement released Monday, he also said: "It recorded a significant annual growth of 82 percent from 2000 to 2005, compared with 12 percent in the fixed-line sector".
According to ITU statistics, least developed countries with the highest annual growth rate in terms of cellular subscribers over the period 2000-2005 were Djibouti (186 percent), Democratic Republic of Congo (184 percent), Niger (171 percent), Liberia (155 percent), Mali (142 percent), Sudan (139 percent), Yemen (129 percent) and Laos (119 percent). At the same time, pre-paid services, accounting for almost 90 percent of the entire market, "have contributed to the explosive expansion of the mobile sector in LDCs." In Afghanistan, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Haiti, Somalia and Niger, all mobile subscriptions were prepaid. ITU also said that overall, access to the internet has increased and there is more interest in deployment of broadband services in rural areas. By 2005, internet user penetration caught up with fixed line penetration in LDCs, providing access to a host of applications, such as e-education, e-health, e-business, e-agriculture, and e-government. In terms of internet penetration, ITU said, a number of countries have reached penetration rates of around five percent, including Maldives (5.8 percent), Cape Verde and Togo (both 4.9 percent), and Senegal (4.6 percent). Although the majority of LDCs have not yet launched high-speed internet services, popular demand is encouraging more countries to upgrade from dial-up internet connections to broadband.
Still ITU warned that despite recent progress, LDCs continue to face major challenges. "Rapid developments in the LDC telecommunications marketplace require new directions to be taken by policymakers and regulators," it said. Policy makers and regulators must therefore forge a transition path away from the old regulations that may have served a useful purpose in the past, but are today barriers to progress. Equally challenging is the task of developing an appropriate policy and regulatory framework that will help realise the full benefits of internet protocol (IP) convergence, the study noted. In many LDCs, it said, policy changes are required that would provide regulators with flexible tools to implement the transition to new network development opportunities and attract investor financial flows into the sector. The scarcity of ICT infrastructure, the high cost of international bandwidth, the dearth of relevant local content along with the lack of cooperation among development partners and political instability also remain daunting challenges. "What is really encouraging is the fact that there is incredible enthusiasm among LDCs to be part of the Information Society. This, coupled with the emergence of new, low cost and affordable technologies, especially wireless, will hasten the pace towards universal access", Zavazava said. ( by Thalif Deen )
Heady days of 20 and 30 per cent growth in the 1990s remains unlikely, but the worldwide ICT sector is expected to grow a vigorous six per cent in 2006, according to a new report. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's biennial Information Technology Outlook report predicts the highest growth areas will be in internet-related investments, Linux servers, digital storage, personal digital assistants, and new portable consumer products. With the emergence of new growth economies - in particular China - ICT spending was up 5.6 per cent per year from 2000 to 2005 in US dollar terms. In the 30 countries making up the OECD including Ireland, ICT spending was up 4.2 per cent during the same period although market share dropped from 89 per cent in 2000 to 86 per cent in 2006. ICT spending is therefore increasing rapidly in non-OECD countries. China's ICT sector has experienced 22 per cent growth since 2000, and its spending in 2005 is estimated to be around the $118bn mark. Across the 30 OECD countries 14.5 million people - roughly one in 80 - work in the ICT sector and although the top technology firms' revenues are now 20 per cent more than in 2000, their employment levels have remained flat.In terms of international trade and services, increasing commodity prices and cheaper consumer equipment means the performance of ICT trade has been somewhat disguised. However, at 13.2 per cent the share of ICT goods in total trade is the same percentage as in 1996.
Ireland is by far the leading exporter of ICT services and software goods in the OECD, with combined exports of over $20bn in 2004.In terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) the outlook is good for 2006, although the nature of investment flow has changed with manufacturing countries like China, India and Eastern European states joining countries such as Ireland and Korea as major ICT exporters. Mergers and acquisitions have driven foreign investment, and the value of cross-border deals in the ICT sector has increased 47 per cent. Indeed, ICT firms comprised 20 per cent of all mergers and acquisitions and although the medium-term outlook is good, there is concern that global interest rate rises could adversely affect company balance sheets. The OECD is made up of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Republic of Korea, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Britain, and the United States.ㄗby Maxim Kellyㄘ
Adoption by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) of Korea's ubiquitous home network services has provided momentum for local companies on a head start in the global home network services market, raising hope for the advent of a ubiquitous city. The Korean Agency for Technology and Standards said on Thursday (Oct. 19) that ISO's JTCI/SC25 (Joint Technical Committee/Subcommittee 25) adopted as international standards three home network services technologies Korea proposed on Oct. 9. The ISO, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is a network of the national standards institutes of 157 countries. The Centralized Management Protocol for Ubiquitous Home Network Services, adopted with the positive support of the United States, Britain, France and China, provides an omnipresent communication environment rendering access anytime anywhere while enabling a variety of integrated multimedia services, including domestic security, education, medical and entertainment services, to end-users.
NEW YORK - Customer accounts at online brokers including E*Trade Financial and TD Ameritrade have been infiltrated by computer hackers in Eastern Europe and Asia in one of the biggest cases of identity theft to strike the US securities industry.The FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Association of Securities Dealers are trying to unravel the fraud, which has cost New York-based E*Trade at least US$18 million ($27 million) and caused losses at TD Ameritrade of Omaha, Nebraska. In one "pump-and-dump" scheme the SEC uncovered, thieves used customers' money to drive up the prices of little-traded stocks and then sold shares they bought earlier at a profit."The perpetrators were more organised, and it was a bigger issue this quarter than it had been before," E*Trade chief operating officer Jarrett Lilien said.Online brokers are a growing target for criminals who ply the internet from countries beyond the reach of American law."Identity thieves appear to be directing increased attention to the securities business, and their attacks are growing in sophistication," said John Walsh, chief counsel in the SEC's office of compliance inspections and examinations, at an industry conference in Phoenix on October 5.E*Trade disclosed last week that it spent US$18 million in the third quarter to compensate customers affected by trading fraud.
TD Ameritrade, the third-largest online broker, also suffered losses because of bogus trading by unauthorised users who pried their way into customer accounts, said spokeswoman Katrina Becker.She would not say how much the company lost. Charles Schwab Corp, the biggest online broker, didn't experience "anything unusual enough to warrant a financial disclosure," said spokesman Glen Mathison.A spokesman for closely held Fidelity Investments of Boston, the second-largest discount broker, declined to comment.E*Trade chief executive officer Mitchell Caplan told investors that investigators traced the illicit trading to Eastern Europe and Thailand.TD Ameritrade said it also was targeted by cyber-criminals in Eastern Europe and Asia."Internet crimes that result in the theft of personal and financial data from consumers continue to be a significant and global problem," FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said.Some of the losses were straight theft.In his presentation at Phoenix, Walsh explained how criminals used personal information such as American social security numbers to break into accounts and loot them, selling securities and wiring the proceeds far from the US.The online version of the "pump-and-dump" fraud sets off few security alerts at brokerage firms because no money is withdrawn from the compromised accounts, Walsh explained.
"If you are looking for a single 'hot topic' in the world of identity theft, this is it," he said.In "alias fraud", a thief opens an account in an individual's name, then uses it for illegal trading or money- laundering. Because the victim's name is on the account, he or she appears responsible for the crimes.Walsh said the SEC had started a "sweep examination" of brokerage firms to determine if they had adequate technology and staff training to prevent and detect online fraud.Said E*Trade's Caplan: "This thing is so widespread and has such a significant impact that you're going to end up seeing structural changes in the industry."Caplan told investors E*Trade reduced the fraud to "almost zero" in the past three weeks after beefing up security for electronic trading.The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation gives US bank accounts cover worth up to US$100,000 against fraud or insolvency but brokerages get no such protection.In an effort to allay concerns about internet trading and keeping cash in online bank accounts E*Trade promised in January to reimburse customers for any fraud-related losses. TD Ameritrade and Schwab gave similar guarantees in February and Fidelity followed in May.
Broadband is becoming so vital for businesses and offers such competitive advantages that it is being compared to utilities such as water and electricity, contents The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development's Information Economy Report 2006, released Thursday. This is disturbing news for developing countries, where broadband access is scarce and the basics needed to provide it at reasonable cost are often lacking.The report says there are large differences between developed countries, where broadband is growing rapidly, and developing countries, where dial-up Internet connections are still prevalent when there are any connections at all. In rich countries, broadband subscribers increased by almost 15% in the last half of 2005, reaching 158 million. Business broadband connectivity grew most significantly -- in the European Union, for example, from 53% of enterprises in 2004 to 63% in 2005. Broadband enables companies to engage in more sophisticated e-business processes and to deliver a greater range of products and services through the Internet, thus maximizing the benefits of information and communication technology (ICT).
The use of broadband directly increases competitiveness and productivity, the report says -- and that, in turn, has an impact on macroeconomic growth. It is estimated that broadband can contribute hundreds of billions of dollars a year to the Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) of developed countries over the next few years.The growth of broadband is largely due to competition and declining prices, but it also depends on available infrastructure -- and the report notes that many developing countries, because of the lack of economies of scale, have low incentive to expand broadband infrastructure outside urban areas. Wireless technology and satellites can help circumvent the cost of infrastructure for sparsely populated, remote or rural areas. Governments have an important role to play in improving access to broadband through infrastructure and policy, the report adds. Policies can either encourage or be a disincentive to competition, and thus have an impact on availability and prices.Availability of broadband in developing countries is difficult to estimate; only 71 of 151 nations submitted data on the subject. But 48 of those 71 said broadband penetration rates were under 1%.
Of that group, more than half of broadband subscribers were in mainland China, and even China∩s broadband penetration rate was only 2.9%. The highest penetration rates among developing countries providing data were in Asia, led by the Republic of Korea at 25.5%.Although there is virtually no data on the value of online sales in the developing world, it is apparent that e-commerce accounts for a very small percentage of the overall sales of domestic firms there, and other e-business activities such as extranet usage, e-government, e-learning and remote work, are almost non-existent. Still, some developing countries show a high rate of use of e-banking, such as Brazil (75% of enterprises, excluding micro-enterprises used the Internet for banking in 2005) and Morocco (34.9%).E-commerce continues to grow rapidly in developed countries. In 2004, the highest proportion was in business-to-business trade (93% of all e-commerce in the U.S., for example). Growth rates have averaged 6-10% in recent years (manufacturing and wholesale, respectively).Mobile phones continue to be a technology that "fits" poor countries, and such phones are the only form of ICT in which developing countries have surpassed developed countries in the number of users (1.2 billion versus 800 million).
Nonetheless penetration rates remain lower in developing economies. In some industrialized nations, the penetration rate is over 100%, while in several dozen developing countries it is under 10%. Schemes to make mobile telephony more affordable account for much of the growth in developing countries, the report notes. For example, in 2004 almost 88% of mobile subscribers in Africa used prepaid services that were tailored to low-income markets.Among other trends identified in the Information Economy Report, ICT sector value-added and employment grew in developed countries in 2003, and the report contends that this increasing demand and supply in the industrialized world opens up new prospects for business partners in developing nations. It recommends that industrial and trade policies there support the creation of business opportunities in ICT-related industries. The report adds that enterprises, wherever they are located, that fail to adapt to the structural changes associated with globalization and intensified ICT use may be marginalized as they lose out to the competitive advantages offered by technology and the economies of scale that are associated with larger markets.
Computer and information exports have become the most dynamic ICT-enabled service sector, particularly in the developing economies. The report notes that between 1995 and 2004, computer and information services exports grew six times faster than total services exports. The share of developing countries in this export sector increased from 4 per cent in 1995 to 20 per cent in 2003, with the highest growth occurring after 2000.In general, ICT access and use can contribute to productivity growth in both developed and developing countries, the report says, although countries that already have reached a certain threshold level of ICT uptake and education seem to benefit most from new technologies. Most research on the impact of ICTs at the firm level reveal positive results in performance and increased market share, especially if complemented by organizational changes, the upgrading of skills, and innovation.
It is in the interests of local ICT (information and communications technology) small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) to participate in the World Congress on Information Technology 2008. These companies would have the opportunity to build strategic partnerships, tap new markets, attract foreign investment, gain an insight into global trends and access the latest technology at the event, said WCIT 2008 Sdn Bhd CEO Wendy Liew. ※This event is for them,§ she told a press conference recently. HT Consulting (Asia) Sdn Bhd, a provider of consulting and outsourcing services in 10 countries, is the first local SME to respond to a call by WCIT 2008 Sdn Bhd for sponsors. CEO Harres Tan said the exposure at WCIT will be crucial to the success of Malaysian companies that are planning to take their businesses global, and also to those who have already gone global.
※Global ICT corporations will be seriously looking to invest in tie-ups with the best local companies and being a sponsor will surely place us in the front line,§ Tan said. WCIT 2008 sponsorship programmes are between US$50,000 and US$1mil (RM185,000 and RM3.7mil) for international and multinational corporations while it is RM25,000, RM50,000 or RM100,000 for local SMEs. To be held in Kuala Lumpur, the biennial event is expected to draw more than 2,500 government leaders, industry captains and distinguished academics from more than 70 countries. WCIT is touted as the ※Olympics§ of the ICT industry that allows for exchanges on policies, ideas and technologies. It is the flagship event of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) 〞 a consortium of 73 international ICT organisations whose members comprise more than 90% of the global IT market. WCIT 2008 is organised by the Multimedia Development Corporation and the Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia, with the support of the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry.
26-27 October, Olivia Ballroom, Raffles Convention Centre, Singapore, Organised by Public Sector Technology Management.
Connected Thinking for Integrated Government ·6 best practice briefing sessions ·9 government ICT leadership panels ·Featuring top ICT policymakers ·200 government delegates from 15 countries
Accelerated learning Join an estimated 200 delegates to Government Technology Forum 06 - Asia＊s largest ＆closed door＊ event for the region＊s government ICT professionals. Public sector participants are able to interact with a series of senior-level panel discussions, and learn from formal government briefings on: ·The Future Shape of Government ·HR Capital Management ·Government Intranets ·Information Governance ·Decentralising Administration ·Citizen Identity Management ·Integrated Emergency Response
The first 'China-Japan-ROK Robot Technology Seminar'was conducted in the Beijing International Convention Center on 9 October 2006. MA Songde, Vice Minister of Science and Technology attended and addressed the conference. He proposed that scientists of the three countries should strengthen exchange and collaboration in robot technology and industrialization.More than 70 representatives from government, research institutions, universities and enterprises of China, Japan, and ROK attended this seminar, which was cosponsored by the Department of High and New Technology Development and Industrialization of MOST, Japan-China Organization for Business, Academia & Government Partnership of Japan and the Department of Industry and Technology in the Ministry of Information and Communication of ROK. At the conference, government representatives talked about the strategic planning of each country for the development of robot technology. Relevant experts and enterprises introduced their research work and discussed cutting-edge technologies and international exchange and collaboration. The sponsors jointly signed a memorandum proposing strengthened international exchange and collaboration in robot technology and industrialization among China, Japan & ROK and wider international communities.
This strategic two-day conference, Nov.7-9 2006,Singapore, is designed for all senior executives who are concerned with achieving and maintaining a competitive advantage through effectively managing the knowledge capital contained within their organisations. This year sees the welcome return of Thomas A. Stewart, editor of Harvard Business Review and former member of the board of editors of Fortune magazine as a keynote speaker. Along with Mr Stewart we have Professor Leif Edvinsson, the worlds first Director of Intellectual Capital at Skandia, one of the worlds most successful financial institutions, and a special advisor to the UN and several government departments across Europe. Joining Tom and Leif is Knowledge Management Asia＊s Emeritus Director, Dave Snowden, acknowledged founder of ＆organic knowledge management＊, acclaimed expert on narrative patterns and Director of Cognitive Edge. Knowledge Management Asia is the premier knowledge and collaboration event in the Asia-Pacific Region. For over five years we have brought together hundreds of participants, year-on-year, from throughout the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Delegates at this prestigious networking event include prominent knowledge practitioners, senior government officials and company executives with an interest in knowledge and creating business value from it. Through a unique combination of an in-depth conference, tutorial style workshops and an extensive exhibition, this all-embracing event brings together the wide range of themes within the management of knowledge into real-world thoughts and practises to help you enhance and develop your organisations business strategy. ( by Dr. Peter M. Senge )
DISCUSSION: Heralding a revolution in the perception and usage of IT in Sri Lanka, Microsoft will present its acclaimed symposium Tech-Ed 2006 to the local IT industry. Delegates will be able to experience and discover a range of path-breaking products and technologies due to be unveiled by Microsoft in the coming months. Held in Sri Lanka for the second consecutive year, Tech-Ed 2006 will take place at the Waters Edge Golf and Country Club, Battaramulla from October 25 to 27. Tech-Ed is Microsoft's flagship annual technology conference designed to expose IT professionals to educational and networking opportunities and face-to-face access to industry experts and peers. It focuses on sharpening the skills of IT professionals to enable them to build, deploy and manage IT solutions in a competitive business world.
The symposium encompasses aspects such as technical training, information and awareness on current and soon-to-ship technologies, and community resources. The symposium is brought back to Sri Lanka following the overwhelming success of Tech-Ed 2005, where over 500 key delegates participated in sessions held under the theme "Learn, Solve and Grow". The event proved to be the most successful IT event ever held in Sri Lanka and was evidence of the demand for large scale IT events in the country. Network Administrator of International Water Management Institute Shaminda Illangathilake speaking of last year's event said, "Tech-Ed 2005 offered my colleagues and me a rare opportunity to participate in an IT symposium of international standard. The exposure and learning experience we received at Tech-Ed 2005 have had a direct bearing on propelling our awareness of the latest technologies to a new level - we were able to experience hands-on, the technologies that would otherwise have reached us much later. Symposiums such as Tech-Ed are essential if Sri Lanka's IT industry is to gain recognition on the global IT footprint and Microsoft must be commended for its commitment to bringing its global event to Colombo."
Microsoft says plans are underfoot to ensure that this year's event achieves even greater success; it is expected to play host to 750 participants this year. Over 25 of Sri Lanka's leading ICT companies will also showcase their latest technology at the event, enabling delegates to experience the best of today's technology and the most exciting and promising innovations in the pipeline. Speaking about the upcoming event, microsoft's Country Manager in Sri Lanka, Sriyan de S. Wijeyaratne said, "Microsoft is pleased to bring Tech-Ed back to Sri Lanka for the second consecutive year and we pledge to make this year's event a bigger and better one. Tech-Ed is an unparalleled opportunity for IT professionals to gain new insights and experience into new technologies and trends, which will in turn empower them with the skills and knowledge needed to develop state-of-the-art solutions for the modern business world. The tremendous response we received last year was an endorsement of Microsoft's faith in Sri Lanka's IT industry. The vibrant IT ecosystem in Sri Lanka and its potential to reach global recognition was in evidence during Tech-Ed 2005, which attracted not just IT professionals, but members of the business community, government and students who actively participated in the learning experience offered by the symposium."
The 6th Annual Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region was successfully held in Shanghai China during 18-19th October 2006. With a theme of "ICT for a Better Life: The Role of Local Government", the Forum attracted more than 400 participants the world over including UN officials, government leaders as well as NGO organizers at various levels, business managers, and renowned scholars. Mr. Yang Xiong, the Vice Mayor of Shanghai Municipal Government, H.E. Ali Hachani, the President of ECOSOC, Mr. Anwarul K. Chowdhury, United Nation＊s USG, made important addresses on the opening ceremony. Thirteen VIPs gave keynote speeches in four Plenary Panels. During the occasion, The 2006 Assessment Report on the E-government Development in China was released, and the UN Public Serve Award (the e-government category) was awarded to the Department of Industrial & Tourist Resources of Australia, while Mr. Fan Xiping, the Deputy Secretary General of Shanghai Municipal Government, won the ※Special Award for Outstanding Contribution§ to the promotion of the cooperation in the Asia-Pacific regional informatization.
There were also ten Parallel Sessions during this forum, namely: Parallel Session 1: ※E-governance§ - Digital Local Agenda Awareness Raising Workshop Parallel Session 2: Global South Development Forum and Parallel Forums Parallel Session 3: Specialized Workshop on ※The Construction and Application of the Public Information Service Platform for Modern Logistics§ Parallel Session 4: Round Table Conference, Shanghai Municipal Informatization Commission - IDA, Singapore Parallel Session 5: 2006 Global Digital Energy Forum Parallel Session 6: GAID on E-governance Asian-Pacific Regional Meeting Parallel Session 7: Worldwide Informatisation Seminar Parallel Session 8: Access to Global Supply Chain Parallel Session 9: Interaction 每 ※The New Vision of Cable TV§ Parallel Session 10: South-South Cooperation Workshop on Enhancing National Execution and Aid Coordination in Asian Developing Countries
The Second International Conference e-Society.mk started yesterday, November 15, in Skopje. The conference, which will close on Friday, November 17, 2006, gathers Macedonian and international ICT experts, to facilitate exchange of experiences and create policies based on the latest information related to information society. Milcin, Janakievski and Drozd at the opening ceremony. The conference was officially opened by Mile Janakievski, Macedonian Minister of Transport and Communications. In his opening remarks, Janakievski reiterated the dedication of the Government to turn Macedonia into a true information society, and announced a series of projects towards that goal, as well as the plans to establish a separate Ministry on Information Society. ※Macedonia has already adopted its national strategy for development of information society. We will now have to implement it properly, and we count on the international community to remain our partner in that area§, said Janakievski. Natalia Drozd, Head of OSCE Mission to Skopje, emphasized the importance of information in terms of improved quality of life of all citizens. However, she cautioned that information, too, could be susceptible to abuses, therefore it is paramount for the State to join in the efforts to create information society with proper legislation.
Vladimir Milcin, Executive Director of Foundation Open Society Institute Macedonia (FOSIM), in his opening address, emphasized the importance of partnership between the civil, governmental and business sectors for the development of good and successful strategies and policies. ※We shall continue to develop that partnership in the development of information society, for the benefit of all citizens§, said Milcin. In the following plenary session, dedicated to the best practices in creation of institutional framework, Marijana Vidas-Bubanja, the Chairwoman of the e-SEE Initiative of the Stability Pact for SEE, presented e-SEE initiative and pointed out several problems in its implementation, primarily the lacking capacity and literacy within the public administration to transfer to ICT and e-Governance practices. Dessi Pefeva, from ISOC Bulgaria, presented the Bulgarian case-study on implementation of e-society platforms and policies. She emphasized the importance of the Government sponsored efforts to equalize the status of FOSS (free and open source software) with the status of proprietary software in Government＊s tender procedures, to the effect that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Labour Office web-sites run on FOSS platforms.
Pefeva also added the importance of the completed effort to translate and localize the Creative Commons licenses, thus establishing new standards in protection of intellectual property rights, and especially protection of digital works. Still, Bulgarian experience has not proceeded without problems, especially in terms of introduction of e-governance. ※E-Governance, as it is, is not very popular in Bulgaria, having in mind the costs of various services. For example, the e-signature costs about 100 US Dollars, and not many people are willing to get one§, says Pefeva. At the end of the first session, Miroslav Jovanovic from the Information Sciences Sector of the Macedonian Ministry of Finance presented the legislative framework on information society in Macedonia and the plans and the work on the adoption of the Law on Information Society. ※e-Society.Mk§ Conference is organized by the Metamorphosis Foundation, with the support by OSCE Mission to Skopje and FOSIM. All presentations from the plenary sessions will be made available online on www.e-society.org.mk. ( by Dejan Georgievski )
Theme: E-governance and Developement 15-17 Dec 2006, New Delhi Organised by International Congress of E-Government (a society for the advancement of knowledge in E-governance) Under the aegis Global Institute of Flexible Systems Management
Contacts ICEG-2006 ICEG 2006 Secretariat Department of Management Studies Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hauz Khas, New Delhi (India) http://www.iceg.net/2006 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org M.P.Gupta, Program Chair (Email: email@example.com) G.P.Sahu, Conference Coordinator (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
About ICEG-2006 ICEG-2006 is the fourth event in series. It aims to provide a forum for discussing research findings, strategies, policies, and technologies in the field of e-governance. Drawing from the deliberations, this conference intends to lay down the agenda for future research & activities.
The fees for registration of Internet domains in Azerbaijan will be reduced by 33%, effective on October 1, reports say. The registration fee, which used to make up 30 new manats ($34), as well as the annual payment for the use of local domains, will now equal 20 manats ($23), said Faig Farmanov, general director of Intrans company in charge of running Azeri domains. ※We are also looking to increase the number of Azeri websites registered with the .az domain. We are inviting local sites with the .com, .net and .org extensions to transfer to this domain free of charge, and use it for free for a year after that,§ said Farmanov. Intrans also plans to start registering Azeri web-pages not in English, but in the native language, the company boss added. Intrans has been in business for 13 years and is the country＊s number one Internet service provider (ISP). Over 3,000 domains with the .az extension have been registered since August 25, 1993, when the national domain was set up.
The Chinese government has outlined plans to encourage technological innovation and to break down obstacles to the development of the country's information industry. The 11th-Five Year Plan and Long-and Medium-Term Outline of the Development of the Information Industry published on Tuesday lists 13 key fields for development. The information industry was a priority in developing national innovation as it was a driving force of sustainable economic growth, said Wang Xudong, Minister of Information Industry, at a national meeting on innovation in the information industry on Tuesday. The 13 fields include integrated circuitry, software and new electronic components, which are strategic and basic science and technology fields currently restraining the industry's development, said a senior official with the Ministry of Information Industry. The official said the campaign would aim to strengthen the foundation of the information industry by developing key technologies and holding core patents and standards in these fields. The consolidation of communication, broadcast and television, and Internet networks into a complete information industry chain would be achieved by developing high definition television, wideband mobile communication, next generation networks, network and information security, and home network and intelligent terminals. The added value of information industry totaled 1.32 trillion yuan (US$165 billion) last year, accounting for 7.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product. Wang said Chinese enterprises should improve cooperation with transnational corporations and spur innovation efforts in the information industry on the open market. China should also set about completing its auto computing and agricultural information platforms, intelligent transportation system, information industry service platform and scientific study results transformation system. China produces more than 30 electronic and information products, such as mobile phones, personal computers, color TVs, but using foreign core technologies. Less than 10 percent of exports carry local brands.
The Chinese government finally released its digital TV terrestrial transmission standard yesterday, but time is needed for digital terrestrial broadcasting to become a significant business in the world's largest TV market. The Standardization Administration of China's website carried the proposal for the transmission standard, which was approved on August 18 as the compulsory national standard, coming into effect from August 1 next year. Along with 3G mobile communications, the digitalization of China's broadcasting is regarded as a lucrative market, which could be worth over 1 trillion yuan (US$125 billion). Therefore, it will form a key area in a Chinese standard will cut royalty payments and assume an advantageous position in the global industry. Digital TV broadcasting takes place in three ways -- cable, satellite and terrestrial, with China mainly following international standards in the first two areas. Cable broadcasting is the only major transmission format currently used in China, as the terrestrial standard was not decided until August 18 and satellites for direct broadcasting have yet to be launched. At the end of last year, only 4 million households across the nation had access to digital cable TV broadcasting, with the number expected to reach 10 million this year. However, more than 400 million households with TV sets and only 128 million had access to cable TV at the end of last year, meaning that the majority of digital TV transmissions are expected to rely on the terrestrial method. China began to develop its own terrestrial transmission standard in 2001.
Proposals made by Tsinghua University and Shanghai Jiaotong University were later merged into a final draft proposal. The Shanghai version borrowed some principles from the US standard and is suitable for transmission in sparsely populated remote areas, while the Tsinghua proposal is based on the same modulation method as current and future mobile communication standards and has its own patents, cutting royalty costs. Zeng Huiming, editor of the Radio and TV Information magazine, said the standard came out late, because of the compromise process, but this delay does not pose a problem since as China has just started to promote the terrestrial transmission model. He believed that an essentially Chinese version of the standard would not pose a serious threat to foreign equipment manufacturers, as many of them were already involved in the Chinese proposals and time remains for them to adapt to the new standard. Sun Min, vice president and board secretary of Tsinghua Tongfang Co Ltd, agreed: "This is just a beginning with this standard. The real commercial benefits still depend on future development." Sun's company, a flagship enterprise of Tsinghua University, is believed to be a major beneficiary of the Tsinghua standard. He said his firm had been working on some transmission and network construction trials, but these remain in their infancy.
China's mobile phone users will have to register using their real names starting next year, according to the Ministry of Information Industry (MII). The new rule will apply not only to new users, but also about 200 million pre-paid cell phone users, Wang Lijian, dean of MII's News Department, said on Sunday. Currently, half of the country's 400 million cell phone users pre-pay for their mobile service provided by China Mobile and China Unicom. And most are not required to register before buying a new phone number. Ministry officials said the real-name registration system would help curb the surging number of mobile phone crimes. Statistics from the Ministry of Public Security suggest that most mobile phone-related crimes are committed by those registered under fake names. Experts say that implementing the real-name system may hit China's mobile telecom operators hard in short term because of fewer new users and increased operational costs. "The operators will suffer a temporary decrease in the number of consumers and short message services (SMS) as people may not like having to provide their ID cards for a phone number," Xu Junqi, vice-dean with the Policy-Making Institute of the Telecommunications Research Centre under MII, said yesterday. "The operators also have to invest a lot in updating their technical facilities and service network to meet the new requirement." Telecom value-added service providers are also expected to see their profits drop after the new system takes effect. But Xu stressed that the new system will benefit both mobile phone users and operators in the long term as it protects the consumer interests and reduces operators' management risks. MII experts participating in drafting the new system said that the system has included provisions to protect the privacy of personal information. Public reaction last December was almost evenly split. An online survey conducted by Sohu.com found that 44.9 percent of 1,911 respondents favored using ID to set up mobile phone accounts, and 42.1 percent opposed it. A survey conducted by China Central Television in September 2005 showed that 88 percent of the 12,522 respondents said they had received illegal text messages such as fake notices of winning prizes, pornographic information and ads for fake diplomas and illegal firearms.
To effectively bridge the digital gap between Taiwan's urban and rural areas, a sum of NT$2.72 billion (US$82.2 million) has been allocated for the 2005-2008 period, a spokesman for the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) said Monday. Some 300 digital opportunity centers will be eventually opened in 168 remote villages and townships under the program to provide local residents with e-learning and related applications, he said. With successive openings of 50 digital opportunity centers around Taiwan -- mainly scattered throughout Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi, Pingtung and Penghu counties in central and southern Taiwan, as well as among aboriginal tribal areas in mountainous regions -- the government hopes to better reduce the digital gap between urban and rural areas, the spokesman said. So far, the combined number of visits by users to these digital opportunity centers has exceeded 32,300 nationwide, he noted. The CEPD official said that the digital center program will effectively help sharpen the country's competitive edge in the "computerized" 21st Century. According to the results of a survey conducted by the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, Taichung City, Taipei City and Hsinchu City have the highest percentages of local population ever to have used a computer, while Chiayi County, Yunlin County and Penghu County have the lowest. In terms of the ratio of each city's or county's Internet users, Taichung City, Taipei City and Hsinchu City take the lead with percentages of over 70 per cent, well ahead of the last three -- Chiayi County, Penghu County and Yunlin County -- all of which register levels below 50 per cent, according to the survey results.
Internet users who spread defamatory information may face fines of up to 5,000 yuan (US$625) in southwest China under new regulations passed by Chongqing Municipality. The Standing Committee of the Chongqing People's Congress, or local legislature has ratified the regulations on the protection of computer information system safety. However, legislators scrapped plans to require private individual internet users to register with the Public Security Bureau after a public outcry against the proposal. The regulations stipulate that individuals who spread information or remark defaming others, launch personal attacks or damage others' reputations on-line will receive a warning or be fined 1,000 to 5,000 yuan (US$125 to 625). Those who cause serious consequences will be detained for up to five days. Organizations involved in defamatory materials will be fined 3,000 to 15,000 yuan (US$375 to 1,875). The act follows a State Administration of Radio, Film and Television announcement to regulate on-line "egao", a slang term to describe the spreading of remarks or film clips to satirize others or social phenomena. Computer information systems and institutions that have access to the internet are required to be registered with the police if they have an internet connection. The regulations also set out penalties for producing, inputting, and spreading viruses or other harmful data on-line.
The government has unveiled a draft blueprint on the future development of information and communications technology designed to make Hong Kong a world digital city. In what it called its 2007 Digital 21 Strategy consultation paper, the government Wednesday set five action areas, namely facilitating a digital economy, promoting advanced technology and innovation, developing Hong Kong as a hub for technological cooperation and trade, enabling the next generation of public services, and building an inclusive, knowledge-based society. ``As reflected in its theme, the digital 21 strategy does not only concern the information communications and technology industry,'' government chief information officer Howard Dickson said. ``Innovation and technology have a profound effect on Hong Kong's economy, our community and every facet of our daily lives. ``Technology and innovation will continue to play a key role in helping Hong Kong to compete by driving businesses to transform and provide goods and services of increasing value.'' Dickson said the government would not only extend digitalization to both conventional services and digital-supported delivery, but would also ensure information and communications technology were widely available to different segments of the community to ensure the further development of an inclusive, knowledge-based society. One of the proposed measures is the introduction of an e-procurement service to enhance the government's merchandising efficiency and to encourage small- and medium-sized enterprises to speed up their digitalization processes. Deputy chief information officer Linda So Ka-pik said the government was now at the end of the preparation stage and would seek funding from the Legislative Council during the 2007/08 legislature year.
A trial program will first be implemented in a few government departments for all purchases valued under HK$1.3 million. ``With government procurement now mainly processed by paperwork, we hope this digitalization process will save time and enable us to strengthen our analysis and monitoring work,'' So said. She hoped the enhancement of this e-government service could further motivate private SMEs to change to a more advanced e-business operation. So noted the government would also consider realigning its counter services after the project was implemented, but stressed all adjustments made would depend on public needs. Another deputy chief information officer, Stephen Mak Hung-shung, said it was hoped the public would participate in the current discussions on broadband and wireless broadband connectivity for every household so as to develop a digital life among the local population. But he insisted the process and demands would always be market-driven. Mak said that the government had no intention of subsidizing Internet service providers to expand their broadband penetration rate which covers about 66 percent of households in the territory. Mak said the government would also continue to advance suitable measures and programs to assist people and children from lower-income families to gain access to information communications and technology facilities.
China's broadcasting industry regulator has announced it will require all mobile phone service providers in China to use a China-developed technology standard for broadcasting television signals to mobile phones. The State Administration of Radio, Film and TV (SARFT) announced the new standard, STiMi, earlier this week in advance of an international forum on standards for mobile phone television. STiMi, short for Satellite Terrestrial Interactive Multi-service Infrastructure, was developed by the SARFT-affiliated Academy of Broadcast Science and will be applied across the country beginning next month, said a researcher who declined to be named. "The introduction of STiMi, which is China's independent intellectual property right, demonstrates that China has world leading technology in the field, and will not have to submit to the standards of other countries," he said. Compared to mobile phone TV standards in other countries, the STiMi is better as it will use satellites to operate in China, he said. Major mobile service providers, such as China Mobile and China Unicom, have already set up mobile TV systems of their own, and their mobile phone TV service already has more than 1.5 million subscribers. Asked if the new standard will conflict with standards already in use in China, a SARFT official would only say there are no conflicts of interest between Chinese mobile service providers and SARFT. "The real fight is between the domestic industry and foreign standard makers," he added. Yet a source with a Chinese mobile service provider said it will be difficult to promote the new standard. "It will take a while before the cell phone TV service with the new standard can penetrate the market," he said. "Few people are willing to invest in the new-born standard." China now has 420 million mobile phone subscribers and the number of subscribers increased by more than 30 million from January to June this year.
The Shanghai Municipal Informatization Commission announced Monday the signing of partnership agreements with China Telecom and China Mobile worth billions in investment in Shanghai's informatization. The partnership agreements are specifically with China Telecom's and China Mobile's Shanghai subsidiaries, which will invest RMB 40 bln (USD 5 bln) in the next four years in the informatization in Shanghai Municipality. The partnership will focus on promoting the penetration of information technology in society and meeting the information demand by low-end users such as those in suburban and rural areas of China. Shanghai Mobile will focus on ten major projects in China's 11th five- year plan. Major projects include the development of e-government, mobile entertainment, mobile commerce, mobile solutions for public transportation information and logistic services, mobile media and the informatization for 2010 World Expo. Shanghai Telecom will focus on 20 action plans including building Shanghai into a major communication port in the Asia Pacific area by 2010, the World Expo informatization project, the suburban and rural area informatization project, e-government, business informatization solutions, digital home and network security plans. Shanghai Telecom addressed particularly in the agreement that it will offer broadband network coverage for the central towns of all suburban areas in 2010. The carrier will offer fiber optics to all the administrative-level villages so that the suburban broadband network coverage will be at the same level as that in downtown areas. Shanghai Mobile said it will provide discounted service packages to the municipality's 30,000 hearing impaired. The carrier will also offer to the elderly customized handsets with special keypads and large-size fonts, as well as mobile positioning and one-button emergency call services.
China Unicom Ltd, the smaller of the nation's two mobile operators, is to launch its GPRS package service with Nokia technology in what the company said is an important step in the transition to 3G (third generation) technology. "We will launch the GPRS package service in January next year," said Song Limei, deputy general manager of Unicom's value-added service. China Unicom and Nokia China started their first trial run of EGPRS, one of GPRS's package services, in Shanghai yesterday. 3G, the next stage of mobile phone service, has yet to gain government approval in China Enhanced GPRS (EGPRS), also called EDGE, is a digital mobile phone technology that enhances 2G and 2.5G networks. It can reach 2.75G, and can be upgraded to 3G. EGPRS supports connection speeds three times larger than the traditional GPRS service. It can be used for a variety of applications, such as Internet, video services, and other multimedia that might benefit from increased data capacity. "Subscribers can use the mobile phone to send electronic cards, pay small amounts of money, such as railway and bus fare, and send emails," said Zeng Yiqun, a professor at Nokia's technical centre. Industry watchers have been waiting for three years for the central government to give the green light for 3G. TD-SCDMA, based on 3G, was originally planned to be launched in June, but has been delayed until the beginning of next year. "We expect 3G licensing to be permitted by the government in the coming months," said Wang Haojie, spokeswoman of Nokia (China) Investment Co Ltd. Unicom's GSM subscribers increased 9.61 million in the first 10 months to more than 100 million, thanks largely to the company's strategy of diversified branch marketing and continuous upgrades, said Li Gang, vice-president of China Unicom Ltd. EGPRS meets the International Telecommunication Union's requirements for a 3G network. It offers fast Internet access and better multimedia services. It has been introduced to more than 25 countries, including Japan, South Korea and United States. EGPRS was first introduced to North America in 2003. Nokia is the world's largest manufacturer of mobile devices. In 2003, it signed a contract worth US$33 million with China Unicom to expand its Shanghai GSM network. Nokia has six research centres and four manufacturing bases in China.
The government plans to enable high-speed Internet access via existing power lines instead of telephone or cable TV lines, government officials said Wednesday. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications will revise a ministry regulation and start accepting applications for the Internet access known as power line communications within this year, the officials said. In a recommendation report submitted earlier in the day, the Radio Regulatory Council, an advisory panel for communications minister Heizo Takenaka, favored the lifting of a current ban on power line communications, the officials said. In the planned service, power lines at home will be used as a local area network by attaching special modems to power outlets. The system is expected to be capable of transmitting information at a speed equal to that of data communications via fiber optics. Manufacturers of electric appliances, electric power companies and telecom operators have been keen on developing the technology as it enables easy and high-speed Internet access as well as remote-control of electric appliances at home via personal computers outside the home. But many amateur and professional radio operators are opposed to lifting the ban on power line communications as there is a possibility that they may leak radio waves and disrupt existing radio communications. In a written opinion attached to the recommendation report, the council called on the ministry to carefully assess applications for power line communications and take thorough countermeasures against radio communication interference, the officials said.
The Foreign Ministry was set to scrap its online passport application service Tuesday, only two years and eight months after its launch, because of excessive costs and few users. About 4 billion yen in public funds were poured into the system, but only 303 passport applications were filed online, making the cost of each application more than 13 million yen. About 2 billion yen was spent on developing the system and a further 2 billion yen was spent maintaining it. The government is trying to promote the use of online applications at its ministries and agencies, but this is the first instance of a national online application system being scrapped. The ministry stopped accepting applications at the end of September, and planned to close the system down completely Tuesday. The system began operating in March 2004. The ministry had pressed ahead with the system's implementation without forecasting demand for its usage. Additionally, there were two barriers to using the system from the very outset. First, people only needed to use the system once every five or 10 years to apply for, or renew a passport. Second, users also needed to obtain a card for the Basic Residents' Registration Network, known as Juki Net, and purchase a device costing about 3,000 yen to read information from the card. Calls from offices, such as the information technology section of the Cabinet Secretariat, to push ahead with plans for online applications for each ministry and agency based on government policy in 2001, prompted the ministry to implement the system.
Government bodies such as the Foreign Ministry and the Cabinet Secretariat were keen to apportion blame outside their own establishments, saying things such as, "We started this under great pressure from the Cabinet," or "It was the Foreign Ministry that made this decision." A ministry Passport Division official explained: "At the time, we felt we were being told to just get on with implementing the system and that anything would do. If the situation improves in the future we may be able to relaunch the system, so we can't say that it was a mistake just yet." A spokesman from the Cabinet Secretariat's IT section insisted, "We recommended the move to an online system, but it was the Foreign Ministry who made the final decision to implement it." A spokesman for the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry's Government Information Systems Planning Division said: "Our focus is on improving the legal system. It was the Foreign Ministry who pushed on with implementing this system." An official from the Finance Ministry's Budget Bureau said, "In the budgetary assessment, we should have checked carefully with the Foreign Ministry regarding future requirements." According to the Board of Audit, the average usage rate for the 41 online applications systems administered by central government bodies in fiscal 2004 was 0.94 of a percentage point. Maintenance and management costs for the systems came to a combined total of at least 32.9 billion yen for the period from fiscal 2003 to fiscal 2004.
A government panel is expected to recommend revising the Copyright Law to forbid the advertising and online listing of pirated products as well as impose criminal penalties against violators, a Japanese economic daily reported Tuesday. The envisaged legal amendment by the Intellectual Property Policy Headquarters is intended to combat CD and DVD piracy and would enable authorities to clamp down on such activities without filings by the aggrieved copyright holders, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said. The Trademark Law and the law governing registered designs prohibit online auctioning of pirated goods. The Copyright Law proscribes the actual sale of illegally copied CDs and DVDs, but listing such products online is not banned. A seller of counterfeit goods cannot be prosecuted unless a deal is completed.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications will use an Internet social networking site for discussions by members of one of its advisory panels, ministry officials said Monday. This is the first time for the central government to utilize the online service, which is becoming increasingly popular in Japan, for facilitating discussions at a panel of experts advising it. The ministry said an experts' panel on fair usage of Internet telephony networks, which will meet Wednesday for the first time, will hold discussions via the social networking service in addition to holding meetings once a month. Up to 100 people, who will include not only panel members but also officials of companies related to the IP service, will engage in online talks. People who can take part in such talks will be selected by the panel and the ministry. The ministry will consider using the social networking service for discussions at its other advisory panels as well, the officials said. The panel on IP networks is scheduled to issue a report next July on how to ensure their fair usage for appropriate costs.
Japan is considering imposing a ban on online advertising for pirated items in a bid to crack down on circulation of pirated CDs and DVDs, an official said on Tuesday. Japan has voiced concern about the proliferation of pirated goods being sold by the Internet at home, even as the country takes aim at China and other countries for violating intellectual property rights. Japan's current Copyright Law proscribes sales of illegally copied CDs and DVDs but not advertisements for such products, meaning that violators can only be prosecuted after the transaction is completed. "Even when pirated products are advertised on the Internet, the act of advertising itself is not a violation of the law," a government official said. "It is a violation only when it's proven that the advertiser copied intellectual goods for the purpose of selling them." "We have to take some measures," he added. A task force will recommend the government amend the Copyright Law to enable authorities to target Internet advertising and impose criminal penalties against violators, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said. The task force will aim to submit a bill before parliament in 2008, said the business newspaper, which did not identify its sources. At the request of the National Police Agency and the industry ministry, Yahoo Japan Corp. and other Internet auction sites remove conspicuously under priced items suspected of being pirated, the newspaper said. But these firms' voluntary measures can do only so much, it said. Japan and the United States agreed in March to work together to defend intellectual property rights amid concern about rampant piracy in major trading partner China.
The telecommunications ministry has ordered Kinmirai Tsuushin Inc. to report on revenue from investors because of concern that the Internet-protocol telephony service provider could go out of business, sources said. About 900 investors have paid in around 20 billion yen, the sources said over the weekend. The company based in Tokyo's Chuo Ward is suspected of making false statements to solicit investments in relay stations for its IP phone network. Company representatives told potential investors that they would earn nearly 1 million yen a month. Early this month, however, Kinmirai Tsuushin sent investors＊ letters saying it would suspend payment of dividends until February 2007, after it had postponed dividend payments several times since September. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications on Oct. 27 ordered the company to report details of its business, including the number of subscriptions. Kinmirai Tsuushin failed to do so by Nov. 9, the deadline set by the ministry. The company provides discount IP phone services through relay stations that connect the Internet with ordinary phone networks. Investors are required to pay at least 11 million yen to buy one relay station, which includes a sign-up fee and about 9 million yen in equipment costs. The company has advertised in newspapers, magazines and TV and has held presentations at hotels across the nation to attract investment. About 900 investors collectively paid nearly 20 billion yen over the past several years. Company representatives told investors that they would earn nearly 1 million yen in monthly dividends one year after investing, the sources said.
The officials also said that investors would be able to recoup their investments in two or three years, they said. However, a senior official of Kinmirai Tsuushin said that the number of customers did not increase as expected and that the company had been forced to use new investments to make dividend payments. The company had told investors that it would pay dividends with telecommunication fees collected from IP phone service users. Kinmirai Tsuushin booked sales of 24.5 billion yen for the fiscal year through July. But, the senior official said that sales of relay stations to new investors accounted for almost all of the revenue. "Less than 10 percent of sales came (from telecommunications services)," the senior official said. In presentation material distributed to prospective investors, the company overestimated income from relay stations. The company projected nearly 10 million yen in monthly sales from one relay station with eight lines. The maximum monthly income, however, is a little more than 5 million yen, even if the eight lines are fully engaged around the clock, based on service rates of 10-15 yen a minute. "The company has not given a detailed explanation and has refused my request for reimbursement," an investor said. An executive of Kinmirai Tsuushin said that the company would not refund invested money in principle, while admitting delays in dividend payments. "Payments have been delayed because of shrinking sales, but there is no management problem," the executive said. In IP telephony services, voice signals are transmitted in small-capacity digital packets and efficiently routed on the Internet. Unlike ordinary phone services, each call does not occupy a single line, which enables lower phone rates.
The Japanese government on Wednesday set up a panel to discuss Internet network neutrality -- a concept that has stirred heated debate in the United States -- and study how the surging popularity of free file-sharing services such as YouTube.com is impacting the infrastructure. In the U.S., Internet companies like Google Inc. want lawmakers to bar providers like Verizon Communications and AT&T Inc. from charging Web users to guarantee quality and offer services that have faster download speeds for uses such as movies. The providers have also criticized Web firms as "free riders" of their heavily-invested networks, while they say they have no intention of blocking consumers' access to public Internet sites. Japanese network providers also face pressure to increase investments as Web traffic soared in the past year with more people getting music and video clips from other Internet users' computers, rather than watching them via online streaming. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said it will call for inputs from companies such as Google, Yahoo Japan Corp. and Apple Computer Inc., as well as phone operators and television networks, and aim to compile a final report on the subject by July 2007.Earlier this year, Japan's ministry put together a report on future competition policy in the industry, in which it made some recommendations on the Internet neutrality issue. The report gave suggestions such as charging extra fees to heavy Internet users to lighten the cost burden on network providers, while making sure that end-users and content providers would be able to access the network freely.
"The number of subscribers to FTTH (Fiber To The Home) services in Japan increased 88% in 2005, reaching 5.4 million at the end of March, 2006 contributing to steady growth of optical access network systems market of 76.2 billion Yen (approx. 645 million US dollars) in terms of sales in 2005," as revealed in a report published by Yano Research Institute Ltd., a leading marketing research firm in Japan. TOKYO, Nov. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Yano Research Institute Ltd. (Yano), a leading marketing research and consulting firm in Japan, has conducted comprehensive research on the FTTH (Fiber To The Home) and related systems market in Japan. The research focused on the market trends of major optical transmission systems such as SONET/SDH, WDM and CWDM as well as PON (Passive Optical Network) systems and MC (Media Converters). The firm has compiled a report that provides a wealth of information on these systems markets. According to the report, "FIBER-OPTIC TELECOMMUNICATION MARKET IN JAPAN 2006," published by Yano, the size of the total fiber-optic access systems market has reached 76.2 billion Yen (approx. 645 million US dollars). The market is comprised of 65.5 billion Yen (approx. 555 million US dollars) for PON systems and 10.7 billion Yen (approx. 90.7 million US dollars) for MC respectively. The sharp increase in the number of subscribers to FTTH, which almost doubled in fiscal 2005, has apparently contributed to the growth of the market.
The biggest factor that has contributed to the increase of FTTH subscribers is the lowered fees for optical IP phone service with 0AB-J numbers (conventional telephone numbers) portability and lowered monthly fees for broadband internet access services. Most major telecommunication carriers commented that approximately 60 to 70% of new subscribers had concurrently subscribed to their optical IP phone services, emphasizing the cost for "FTTH and IP phone" is now lower than the cost for "ADSL and conventional analog phone," in terms of monthly basic fees. In conjunction with the increase of subscribers and the growth of the access systems market, the demand of transmission systems for "metro" and "core" sides, such as CWDM, has been increasing since each telecommunication carrier had to increase the capacity of their networks to cope with the rapidly increasing traffic. Yano estimated that the total number of FTTH subscribers would exceed 27 million by the year of 2011 with over 3 million annual net increases of FTTH subscribers each year up to 2011. Further, they forecast that the demand for the access systems would hold at approximately the same level as or even slightly higher than fiscal 2005 for several years thereafter. In addition, each major telecommunication carrier is expected to invest more on the systems for "core" and "metro" sides, such as WDH and SONET/SDH in or after the second half of fiscal 2006 as features and functions required for NGN (Next Generation Network) become more specific.
Kyrgyz lawmakers on November 14 adopted a bill initiated by President Kurmanbek Bakiev that lays out broad access for citizens and residents to information that is not deemed to be commercial or state secrets, AKIpress reported the same day. The legislation also requires state officials to respond to inquiries directly or via the media, and includes a clause allowing the public to attend government sessions and making them a matter of public record. The law must still be signed by Bakiev before it can go into effect. AN
How to police cyberspace is a work in progress. With the world using the Internet as a means of expression more and more, global leaders met in Seoul last week to discuss the role of the Internet as a new platform for democracy. At the International Conference on the Media and Democracy in the Knowledge Society, held Sept. 27-29 in Seoul, academics, government officials and industry personnel discussed benefits and problems created by the rise of the Internet as a new form of media. The event was organized by the Korean National Commission for Unesco, the Korea Press Foundation and the Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion in Seoul. On the final day, participants adopted the Seoul Resolution, which contained several recommendations. First, they noted that the Internet is necessary for enhancing the free flow of information and democracy, but that the digital divide among nations and societies and groups is complex. The participants called for governments, especially those in the Asia- Pacific region, to protect and promote cultural diversity. They also pointed out that the government should form legal protection against the misuse of surveillance.
John D.H. Downing, director of the Global Media Research Center and a professor of mass communications at Southern Illinois University, characterized the Internet as an alternative media and suggested that it may seem small, but should not be overlooked. "Judging alternative media impact solely by measuring the vastness of its coverage is akin to judging nanotechnologies by their size and finding them to be failures," he said. As a new forum for free speech, the Internet has opened a brave new world of influence and power. Kim Gyong-ho of Cheju University in Korea said online services, including portals and Internet-based newspapers, provide forums where users can comment and anonymously reply to news articles. That has contributed to enhancing freedom of expression in cyberspace, but remarks posted on forums often defame individuals and infringe on privacy. "In heated debates over the merits of a laissez-faire approach versus more regulation of online activity, advocates support a strict legislative enforcement as an effective tool to significantly reduce online violence," he said. "Opponents argue that it would lead to a severe chilling of freedom of expression, and serve as a means of surveillance for the government."
Guan Shijie, a journalism professor at Peking University in Beijing, said that because of the Internet's global impact, international laws on freedom of expression must be revised. Mr. Guan noted several contradictory clauses in current international law. For instance, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion, including imparting information through any media. However, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights says that freedom of expression should be restrained from harming national security, public order and public health. Mr. Guan said international laws should protect cultural diversity and not make judgments on subjective values such as morality. "Korean people, for example, like to eat dog meat; it doesn't involve anything regarding morality. Most Americans, on the other hand, believe dog is man's best friend and find it unimaginable to eat the meat of a friend, and it's definitely immoral to do so. "The world is characterized by diverse cultures. Morality is part of a culture and the standards are as diverse as the world is," he said. "As we are now living in a digital age, a domestic affair may acquire global significance. And because communication is closely related to culture, it is much easier to incur intercultural conflict today than it was 10 years ago. "Wu Mei, a professor at the University of Macau, pointed out that in China; Internet forums have played an increasingly important role in shaping the country's political views.§Online debate has been an influential force in a number of major political events, including the massive anti-Japanese demonstration in April of last year," she said.
Korean police attaches abroad will handle accidents or crimes involving Koreans living or traveling in neighboring countries which lack attaches. The National Police Agency said on Tuesday (Oct. 10) that it has selected 55 missions without police attaches in the countries where accidents or crimes involving Koreans frequently take place. The consuls in charge of accidents and crimes in those countries will form networks with police attaches in neighboring countries to protect Korean nationals. A total of nine regional consular networks have been formed, including two each in Asia and America and three in Europe. The police attaches will investigate criminal cases and accidents in collaboration with the local police and report the progress to the Korean consul in the neighboring country. The consular network is expected to contribute to efficiently coping with damage to Koreans from crimes and accidents in foreign countries as overseas Korean travelers have hit the mark of 10 million a year, an NPA official said. The agency plans to station police attaches at all Korean missions as the number of Koreans living or traveling overseas has been on a sharp rise. Currently, 51 police officers have been assigned to 42 overseas missions.
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has started pushing its newly devised m-commerce guidelines for businesses to follow for fair and reliable trade, its vice chairman said in a press briefing on Oct. 10. M-commerce, short for mobile commerce, refers to commercial transactions performed with mobile handsets such as mobile phones. According to the FTC, the m-commerce market, currently underdeveloped, is forecast to see rapid growth down the road, calling for relevant ground rules. The guidelines include regulations for both operators of wireless Internet portals and cybermalls accessible with mobile handsets. They particularly focus on preventing possible losses for young consumers, who are expected to comprise the majority of m-commerce transactors. Under the guidelines, in the event of a dispute between a consumer and a cybermall operator, unless the operator of the pertinent portal has clarified its unliability in advance, it and the cybermall operator will be required to provide partial compensation for losses. The guide also calls for cybermall businesses to set up measures that ensure consumers can properly operate the handset while placing and confirming orders. In a bid to protect young buyers, cybermall businesses should inform them in advance of their right to cancel orders. Also, they are recommended to bar indiscreet overuse of wireless Internet service by letting the user know of their telecom charges in real time when they reach 20 thousand won. With the m-commerce market being still a fledgling, the FTC will induce portal and cybermall operators to voluntarily comply with regulations. If consumers suffer losses from their non-compliance, the watchdog plans to make them legally binding like the enacted guidelines for the protection of e-commerce consumers.
The government will provide a comprehensive search service for overseas marketing information to accelerate paperless e-trade via the Internet. Such marketing information has been separately provided by customs houses, chambers of commerce and industry and insurance companies. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance-Economy Minister Kwon O-kyu presided over a meeting on Friday (Oct. 20) for coordination of economic policies, where ways of promoting e-trade were discussed. During the meeting, the government decided to create a system to effectively search overseas marketing information, currently being conducted separately by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency and other government agencies and the private sector. It will also set up a system designed to provide detailed data related to confirmation of various requirements needed in trade. So far such information has been managed by each relevant agency. In addition, the government will establish an e-B/L (bill of lading) distribution management system and an e-B/L possession management system to electronize export negotiations.
The government also decided to set up an export-import incidental expenses settlement system through an e-trade portal to handle expenses occurring in the process of issuing and distributing trade-related documents and transfer of export-import items. It will also review insertion of a regulation on foreign exchange via e-L/C (letter of credit) into the existing foreign exchange transaction guidelines. The regulation is needed to draft an infrastructure to cope with an expanded use of e-L/Cs. When these plans are implemented without hitch, the government looks forward to as much as 1.8 trillion won per year being saved and contributing to Korea emerging as an e-trade hub in Northeast Asia ahead of China, Hong Kong and Japan. As of the end of June, 42,000 traders, airliners, banks and organizations related to shipping, and customs were using e-trade. Of the 192 million documents related to trade per year, 81 percent, or 158 million, are being handled via e-trade, saving up to 2.5 trillion won.
The head of the Agency of RK for Regulating Natural Monopolies believes that it is necessary to take measures to reduce technological losses on transmission facilities. Bakhytzhan Sagintayev has stated this today, October 16, at a government hour in the Parliament, Kazakhstan Today correspondent reports. "From simply stating the size of these losses we should pass to real work on their reduction. It is necessary to start reconstruction of the networks, replacement of morally and materially outdated equipment and accounting systems, save energy at last," - he has said. He has explained that presently "the biggest specific gravity in the tariff structure of the national energy complex belongs to expenditures for the reimbursement of normative technical losses that make up from 14 to 48%," while in the developed countries the level of the losses does not exceed 10%. The degree of the worn-out pipelines, according to him, "in average makes 55-60%, for instance, it reaches 80% in "Zhaiykteploenergo," which in its turn provokes an increase of the technological losses in the heating networks."
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono launched the National Information and Communication Technology Council on Monday in an ambitious bid to turn Indonesia into an information-based society by 2025.The council, directly under the President, will draw up a blueprint for the development of information technology (IT), eying a communications network connecting key cities as its top priority. The council, Yudhoyono said, was essential in order to coordinate activities by stakeholders, given the country's limited resources both in terms of financing and human skills. "The rapid development of IT will benefit our performance, as it is widely used in many sectors and is borderless," he said at the launch ceremony at the Bogor State Palace, where he will receive U.S. President George W. Bush on Nov. 20. "It will be a shame if IT is developed with no synchronization, or if it does not give its optimum contribution." The council's daily operations will be run by the communication minister with several other ministers as members.
Its advisors are experts from the University of Indonesia, Gadjah Mada University, Bandung Institute of Technology and Surabaya Institute of Technology. The council will team up with IT associations, IT vendors and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce. Apart from drawing up a plan, identifying solutions to IT problems and evaluating the efficiency of projects, the council is also authorized to approve or disapprove an inter-departmental IT program. "The bid to create an information-based society will be a long haul since we first must establish networks for 43,000 villages, 31,173 schools and 2,428 universities, 28,504 community health centers, and governmental agencies," said Yudhoyono. More important, he added, would be enhancing the public's ability to use sophisticated IT in their work. Several programs targeted for implementation between 2006 and 2009 are the Palapa Ring Project, e-procurement, a so-called National Single Window, and the promotion of legal software.
The Palapa Ring Project, which was offered to investors at last week's Infrastructure Summit, aims to build a 36,000-kilometer fiber optic network connecting some 400 major spots in the country. It is expected to create a wireless network for telephone and broadband Internet. E-procurement will provide an online system of administrative services, such as paying one's taxes and electricity or telephone bill. It will also offer a more efficient and transparent system for government procurement. The National Single Window would create an integrated online location for all inter-departmental services. To accelerate investment, export and import tools would be in one place, including customs and excise, shipping, bank transfers, insurance and licensing. The government will work to provide open source software to governmental agencies in order to fight Indonesia's status as the world's third-highest user of pirated software.
President Arroyo on Wed?nesday announced government plans to unveil an ※ICT 4 Education§ (ICTE) strategy to harness the power of the digital age to extend meaningful and relevant education to tomorrow＊s workforce. In her remarks before the 2nd National ICTs in Basic Education Congress in Cebu City, the President said, ※The Philippine cyber corridor stretching from Baguio to Davao runs along a digital backbone that carries ICT services to every municipality and household. We have earmarked over P21 billion to strengthen this backbone in the next three years.§ She said such investments and planning are essential because information communications technology now provides jobs to millions of Filipinos. ※The computer has changed the way we look at the world, the way we use information, the way we work and play,§ she pointed out. The President said her vision of putting at least one computer in every public high school with the help of the private sector has attained 80 percent of its target.
※Now we are working on increasing the number of Internet-ready computers particularly in the most populous high schools, to increase student online hours and build upon Web-based proficiency.§ She also announced that a system for e-learning for the out-of-school youth will soon rise within a year in the major urban centers of Quezon City, Caloocan, San Jose del Monte, Manila, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Cebu. The e-learning system for out-of-school youth will serve as a substitute for the formal classroom, leading to the equivalent of a high-school diploma. However, the President said the strengthening of ICT as a means to further education requires more ICT-competent teachers. ※A strategic plan for teacher training is necessary. Majority of public high-school teachers should fulfill the requirements of the National ICT Complacency Standard for Teachers, or NICS, by 2010. By then, we expect that no high-school teacher will be afflicted with computer fear,§ she said. The President cited how interconnectivity has been changing the countryside.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has posted on its website its first draft regulations on digital terrestrial television (DTT), paving the way for the implementation of high definition video broadcast services in the Philippines. The NTC stated in its draft that the sole standard in delivering DTT in the Philippines is digital video broadcast-terrestrial (DVB-T), which uses the MPEG-2 compression standard. Likewise, the NTC stated in its draft that current analog television broadcast stations will be allowed to apply for authorization to provide DTT services and will have the option of adopting either the higher-quality high-definition TV (HDTV) or standard definition TV (SDTV) standard. DTT providers may opt for a pay-per-view business model provided they obtain permission from the NTC. To qualify for a national authorization to provide DTT, applicants with 15 or more television stations must have at least P1 billion in paid-up capital, the draft regulations state. Analog TV providers with fewer than 15 stations are required to have at least P1.2 billion in paid up capital, and startup companies that do not have any TV stations are required to have at least P1.5 billion in paid-up capital.
All applicants must also hold an existing nationwide congressional broadcast franchise. Applications for local DTT services must have at least P60 million in paid-up capital and have at least a local congressional broadcast franchise. The draft regulations also state that the NTC will require all analog TV providers to convert to digital transmission by the end of the last day of December 2015.However, the NTC will continue accepting license applications for analog TV until December 31, 2008.Digital TV provides higher video quality than traditional analog video and makes it possible for stations to provide viewers with interactive services.
The House of Representatives committee on information and communications technology will discuss a proposed legislation mandating government to use open source software. The committee invited all stakeholders to attend a joint meeting with the committee on trade and industry on House Bill number 5769 filed by Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casi?o. The public hearing is scheduled on November 15, 2006, at 9:30 a.m. at the House of Representatives in Quezon City. The proposed measure mandates government entities to use open source software, a copy of the bill showed. "The Government shall use only information and communications technology goods and services that comply with open standards," the bill said. Government is only exempted from using open source software under "extraordinary circumstances. "The Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) chairman Ramon Sales has earlier expressed reservation on creating legislations related to the choice of software use in government. The CICT official stressed free/open source software (FOSS) is now an established choice.
Casi?o's bill aims to help develop the local software industry, which is increasingly using open source platforms to develop solutions for enterprises and government. The bill also mandates universities and training institutions to shift to FOSS.A certain provision also makes it unlawful for these institutions to only limit certification and training courses to proprietary software. Under the bill, the CICT will be tasked to audit all government systems, and find out how much is being spent on software. This will help government gauge how much it can save when it goes open source. Countries like Brazil, China, Vietnam, and Malaysia have legislated FOSS laws. The bill also requires government research and development policy to support FOSS. It is also promoting the development of FOSS skills through educational institutions with the help of several agencies. The bill also creates the Office of FOSS Migration, which will be attached to the CICT, and headed by a known FOSS advocate with at least 10 years. This office will help government in the transition and migration to FOSS. Within three years, the bill expects 90 percent of government IT professionals, and 65 percent of the country's IT professionals to be proficient in the implementation of FOSS systems.
Meanwhile, in five years, at least 75 percent of all existing government systems shall use open standards. Also in five years, at least 75 percent of all existing government systems shall employ FOSS, the bill said.
Singapore government continues to invest in technology-enabled work environment. Peter Ho, Head of Civil Service with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore launched the 'Government Executives in the New Information and Knowledge Era' (GENIE) showcase to realise possibilities of the government to creatively exploit new infocomm technologies. This was done through collaborations between IDA and industry partners such as Intel, Microsoft and Fujitsu. It is the first time three major multi-national corporations come together with IDA to set up a public sector showcase using technologies in research and development. "Computerisation was a logical step for public agencies to improve efficiency and productivity. It was necessary for the public sector to move from labour to capital-intensive, mechanisation and automation," shares Ho, "For the last 25 years, the public sector has creatively used infocomm technologies to transform the way we work to serve our citizens and businesses better and more efficiently. They government＊s strategic planning has established a strong foothold in the development of technological infrastructure." Today, Singapore is one of the world＊s leading countries that has successfully leveraged infocomm to gain a competitive edge over competitors in the globalised economy, notes Ho. Public officers are inundated with large amounts of information and emails daily. There is therefore a need for an effective integrated application system to manage information flow. Advances in infocomm technologies also mean that public officers must be mobile contrary to the conventional desk bound office. They will need to communicate using various electronic devices such as mobile phones, PDAs and computers, across platforms and geographical locations.
The government also recognises the challenge to keep pace with infocomm security through better management of infocomm systems. "Understanding and having adequate knowledge of technological developments is therefore vital to address these challenges. The creative usage of infocomm technologies in an innovative manner can help to develop a secure and collaborative platform for effective management and exchange of information within the civil service," adds Ho. "In line with iGov2010 masterplan, the showcase aims to demonstrate how our public officers can enjoy a seamless, exciting and technology-enabled work environment. The showcase will also provide valuable inputs to the formulation of the long-term strategy for the Singapore Government＊s infocomm roadmap for the public sector. This further reaffirms Singapore＊s position as one of the leading e-Governments in the world and an early adopter of infocomm technologies." The GENIE Showcase comes amid changes in an increasingly complex and fast-paced working environment where public officers have to deal with large amounts of information. Therefore, there is a need for an effective integrated application system to manage information flow. Advances in infocomm technologies also mean that public sector officers today need to be mobile contrary to the conventional desk bound office. They will need to communicate using various electronic devices such as mobile phones, PDAs and computers across platforms and geographical locations. The government also recognises the challenge to keep pace with infocomm security through better management of infocomm systems.
A new programme has been set up to help develop public sector workforce skills to deliver, support and use next generation public sector information technology. Reports: Jianggan Li The iN＊spire Academy is brought up by two tertiary educational institutions in Singapore 每 Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) and Singapore Management University (SMU) in partnership with HP. The programme takes its name from iN＊spire team, the HP-led consortium bidding for the Singapore government＊s S$2 billion (US$ 1.26 billion) IT outsourcing Standard ICT Operating Environment (SOE) outsourcing tender. Announced last year, SOE aims to standardise the desktop, network and messaging system used by 60,000 civil servants in Singapore and four consortia are bidding for the tender. With NYP, iN＊spire Team will develop and deliver training and certification in IT Service Management (ITSM) to technical professionals from both private and public sector. TSM has been identified as a key skill necessary for the delivery of SOE. It provides everyone a common language and process-based approach to use in planning, developing and documenting large-scale outsourcing projects such as this, helping to simplify and standardise IT processes. ※NYP recognises the increasing importance of ITSM capabilities in the ICT industry, and has been actively working with industry partners to develop solutions for companies to support IT service processes and functions, ICT infrastructure & application deployment, and performance management,§ says Edward Ho, Deputy Principal for Technology, Nanyang Polytechnic.※
Our collaboration with HP allows us to pool resources and expertise in developing ITSM programmes, and provide in-depth training for students and industry professionals. We are glad to collaborate with HP in this new area of the dynamic ICT industry, and look forward to working together with the iN＊spire team.§ Aimed at senior executives in the civil service, the SMU curriculum will have a special focus on strategic change management. Managing change on many fronts is critical to ensure a smooth transition in the projects like the SOE project, in terms of business processes, technology, organizational model, human resource issues and customer management. ※With the support of the SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business and the School of Information Systems, SMU is well-positioned to facilitate the training of senior executives in strategic change management. Together with HP, our industry partner, we hope to contribute to the development of public sector information technology,§ says Associate Professor Annie Koh, Dean, Office of Executive Education, Singapore Management University. Academy training will focus on issues crucial to the success of IT implementation, such as IT service management, change management, process innovation, and people and market development.
The programme aims to: ? Develop a ready pool of trained technology professionals able to handle the SOE environment; ? Enhance the leadership and technical skills competency of professionals and engineers servicing government agencies; ? Grow the next generation of infocomm talent, helping to position Singapore as a global city powered by infocomm and; ? Meet the iN2015 objectives set by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), specifically to invest in people to help them become infocomm-savvy and globally competitive, as well as build up a superb national technology infrastructure. SMU＊s Koh told PSTM that similar partnerships could be established to support other government IT programmes in Singapore as well as overseas.
All the primary schools of the country will be given Internet connections free of cost in the next 10 years under a deal between the government and a US-based company. Presently, there are about 78,000 registered, non-registered, community and government primary schools across the country, while the number of secondary schools stands at around 16,000.Always On Network (AON), a US-based communication services provider, will invest US$ 60 million for ICT training, setting internet exchange, tower and countrywide network, cooperating to set high-tech zone and start e-commerce, as per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked between the two parties. Under the project, the company plans to build Middle Mile, Last Mile and backbone networks using wireless transmission equipments to expand high bandwidth Internet services in the rural areas. Khan M Ibrahim, secretary of Science and ICT Ministry and Quentin H Breen, chief executive officer of AON inked the MoU on October 8 on behalf of their respective side. Abdul Moyeen Khan, science and ICT minister, and Reaz Shaheed, CEO of AON Bangladesh witnessed the signing ceremony at PID in Dhaka. AONB will offer services from their 620mbps backbone network both to corporate clients at $600 and retail users through the shared network at $6 a month.
The project will first initiate radio-link wave and progressively introduce the fiber-optic link. It will have several base stations at 87 points across the country, which will include 19 in Dhaka. Speaking at the function, ICT minister Moyeen Khan said the government had been trying to build infrastructure to give Internet connections to all the primary and secondary schools of the country, which would cost only $30 million. ＆But it could not have been implemented due to the fund crisis in the ICT sector. Moreover, our policy planners often fail to understand the importance of information technology＊, regretted the minister. Khan stressed the need for public-private partnership in implementation of the national policy, and appreciated the AONB for its cooperation with the government in ICT area with service-oriented plans. The American internet service provider AON received licence from Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission in March this year as a joint venture company 〞- Always On Network Bangladesh Limited. In his speech, Quentin H Breen said: "In the first phase, we＊ll be able to cover 85 per cent of the area through our network and rest 15 per cent would be covered in the second phase." He said that 10 per cent of the company＊s income would be spent for social works and the connections to primary schools would be free of cost. "We will introduce two kinds of services - one is corporate business service and another public service," said Breen. "Any school in any village of the country will have the access to wireless broadband connection under the project. And AON will provide its free service to the primary schools." Dan Stanton, COO of AON, Md Sayed Rahman and A K M Nurul Amin Khan of AONB were present at the programme.
A non-government organization is working to involve civil society organizations in the formulation of government information and communications technology (ICT) policies. The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) recently started conducting validation workshops on four ICT-related subjects that it said affect civil society. These are open source software use in education, locating the points of the ※digital divide§ among different community sectors and gender issues in ICT. FMA executive director Allan Alegre said the workshops are meant to get feedback from groups that traditionally do not play a role in ICT policy formulation. ※These are your consumer groups, trade organizations, family help groups, even the media and religious organizations -- people who will be the direct beneficiaries of any ICT policy. We want them to get involved in creating these policies just like what they would normally do when it comes to traditional policies,§ Alegre said.
Shri Dayanidhi Maran, Minister of Communications & Information Technology has said that the process for introducing 3G services in India has already been initiated and it is expected to be launched by second half of next year. India will no more remain isolated from the 3G wave, keeping in tune with Korea and Japan in the Asia-Pacific Region having already launched the 3G services, which is sweeping the rest of the world. Shri Maran said this while speaking at a seminar ※3G India: Redefining Mobility§ organised by the Hindustan Times, here today.Speaking on the occasion Shri Maran said that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has also been deliberating on the 3G spectrum issues for quite sometime. Considering the nature of the issue and its impact on India＊s long term growth, TRAI has been requested to study the same in depth and give their recommendations for DoT＊s consideration. Sharing his views on some of the parameters which formulation of 3G spectrum policy would need to incorporate, the Minister said that the allocation of spectrum requirements of 2G/2.5G has been made historically amongst various users, both Government and the telecom service providers. These have served well to witness a surge in expansion of telecom network as well as capacities. Shri Maran further said that keeping in view the Indian conditions, the telecom services in India would continue to remain voice-centric for bulk growth.
Technologically, one may conceivably view 3G as an overlay on the 2G network. However, 3G networks are not mere upgrades of 2G networks; rather, entirely new networks need to be built and frequencies need to be assigned to mobile operators. Conceptually, however, the distinction needs to be made that for India at least, 3G cannot be perceived as an automatic extension of 2G / 2.5G and would need to be viewed as kind of stand-alone service for specialized needs. The spectrum requirement for 3G would, therefore, have to operate on its own merit in a scarce and competitive environment, he added. Recognising the need that much more needs to be done for rural India, Shri Maran said that one of the gaps in India＊s mobile success story has been the relative absence of the participation of rural India, which has till date remained somewhat isolated from the many benefits of mobile services owing to inadequate coverage. For this, DoT has plans to provide one phone per three rural households by December, 2007 (about 50 million rural connections) and one phone per two rural households by 2010 (about 80 million rural connections). We will be providing mobile access to all villages with population more than 5,000 by December, 2006 and more than 1,000 by December, 2007. Like wise DoT is having a time bound plan for rollout of 2G services into rural India with coverage of all villages with population of more than 5000 by end of 2006 and coverage of all villages with more than 1000 population by end of year 2007.The Department would ensure that all new technologies are introduced in rural areas also. This includes introduction of Broadband services in rural areas. It is further planned to provide Broadband coverage for all Gram panchayats, all secondary and higher secondary schools and all public health care centers by the end of year 2007.
The National Advisory Group on e-governance held its first meeting at the Centre for e Governance here, under the Chairmanship of Dayanidhi Maran, Minister of Communications and Information Technology. The meeting was attended by various representatives from the government, academia and industry, including Nandan Nilekani, Infosys; Kiran Karnik, Nasscom; Prof Subhash Bhatnagar, IIM (Ahmedabad); Secretary DOT and DIT and IT secretaries of various state governments. The advisory group has been set up as apart of the recently approved National e-Governance Plan (NeGP).Among the issues discussed were need for departments to assume ownership of the projects, interoperability between diverse government systems, and the need for localization of e-governance applications. The group also advocated focus on capacity building, need for flexibility at local level for innovation and the involvement of civil society organizations and small and medium enterprises to ensure the percolation of the plan. On this occasion, Maran also released a CD containing the e-governance roadmaps of 15 states.
Skoch Consultancy Services, a strategy and management consultancy company, is conducting India's first ever-national e-Governance Census. It covers projects from all the states to map the spread and impact of e-governance on the lives of common citizen. The census will be covering quantitative data in terms of applications being used in every state and central government departments and also their usage in terms of transactions handled or hits. This will further be clubbed with e-governance report card that assesses some of these projects on various qualitative parameters like ease of use, reduction in corruption, affordability of service and efficiency of staff, amongst others. "e-Governance in India is entering into its next stage of fruition that necessitates that we map and document the spread and the benefits that are being accrued to the citizenry at large both qualitatively as well as quantitatively. It will also provide direction to the future course of action. We could avoid expensive mistakes through learning this way," said Sameer Kochhar, CEO, Skoch Consultancy Services. "There is no authentic consolidated data that tells us where we stand nationally. This will also highlight the best practices that shall be acknowledged as role models. India has been making steady progress in e-governance, it is time that we exemplified that," Kochhar added.
India's e-governance market has been growing. India is expected spend Rs 4000 crore during the year 2006 on e-governance, a growth of 30% from Rs 3014 crore during 2005. This figure is estimated to jump 35% during the next year. Driving this growth will be projects like Common Services Centres of Department of Information Technology that attempt at reaching government services to every nook and corner of the country. India spends close to 100000 crore per annum on the social sector. A significant drive would be towards projects that attempt at better targeting this spending while plugging leakages. Computerization of NREGA is one such example. Major IT induction plans are underway at both Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC). The large-scale project of Ministry of Company Affairs - MCA 21 - is also aiming to digitize the company records data and fully automate the process. While the state-owned system integrator National Informatics Centre (NIC) has remained a majority player in the e-governance implementation space, private players like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have carved nearly 12% market share for themselves followed by others. The census which covers more such qualitative and quantitative insights will be released in early 2007. Census was kicked off at the third Annual India @ Work Summit through presentations by various state and central government agencies on their current status on e-Governance.
The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for the introduction of an Amendment Bill incorporating certain changes in the Information Technology Act, 2000. The Information Technology Act was originally enacted in the year 2000, which primarily aimed to boost e-commerce in the country and also to create an enabling environment for e-governance in the country. It provides a legal framework for transactions carried out using computers and the internet technologies. The Act was enacted keeping in view the technology directions and scenario existing at that time. As the technology is an ever-evolving process for providing efficient and cost effective options, it was felt that a fresh look into the technology driven law needs to be given. Concerns have been raised both within the country as well as by the customers abroad regarding adequacy of data protection and privacy laws in the country. A need is, therefore, felt to strengthen the legislation pertaining to data protection and privacy.
The security practices and procedures would be prescribed to be followed by body corporates and organizations and to enquire personal information of customers. Further new forms of computer misuse like video voyeurism, identity theft, e-commerce frauds like phishing, frauds on online auction sites, sending offensive emails and multimedia offences have also emerged. With proliferation of e-governance and other Information technology applications, security practices and procedures relating to such applications are proposed to be prescribed. There is also an emerging view that IT laws should be technologically neutral in line with the recommendations made by UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) Model Law on Electronic Signature. Such approach will promote development of alternative technologies for authentication of electronic records and will not warrant legislative changes each time a new and equally effective technology is evolved. Keeping in view the above, the amendments have been proposed in the Information Technology Act, 2000 by amending some of the existing sections and proposing to insert new sections to address various issues as discussed above.
The Indian government has decided to shelve, for the moment, a proposal to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005, which would make only file notings on social and development issues accessible to the public. It announced on August 21 that the Bill to make the amendments would not be introduced in Parliament for the moment. Sustained pressure from RTI activists, civil society organisations, even members of Parliament -- all of whom mounted a determined campaign, including hunger strikes, petitions and demonstrations 每 has succeeded in preventing the government from robbing the highly successful Act of its essence. The campaign to retain the Act as it is began almost as soon as the government announced its intention to amend it. The government also had to contend with dissenting voices from within its own ranks over the amendments that would essentially rob the Act of its transparency. While it appears unlikely that the amendments will be tabled in the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament, it remains unclear whether the government will refer the matter to a Parliamentary standing committee for recommendations or rely on consultations between the prime minister and Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of the coalition United Progressive Alliance government, to come up with a final solution. Gandhi believes that the government ought to have given the issue greater consideration at the time of legislating the Act; to amend it less than a year after it has been enacted sends out the wrong signals, especially as the law has become extremely popular and successful within its short lifespan
New Delhi: The decision by the Indian government to allow civil society organisations and community groups to own and operate radio stations will give an additional tool to the civil society to empower people it works with.
The Indian Cabinet on Thursday approved a long-standing demand of civil society organisations to allow non profit organisations and educational institutions to initiate Community Radio broadcasting. The policy says that the license will be given only to a 'non-profit' organization with at least three years social service to local communities and the Community Radio Station should serve specific local community. Educational institutions are already covered under the existing policy, in force since December 2002, in the Community Radio Guidelines. This had allowed Indian civil society enough leeway to join hands with university broadcasters and start producing programmes. A press release by the government says: "The Community Radio Station (CRS) should be designed to serve a specific well-defined local community and the programmes for broadcast should be relevant to the educational, developmental, social and cultural needs of the community." The policy also defines the ownership of the radio station as: "It should have an ownership and management structure and is reflective of the community it seeks to serve and it must be registered under the registration of Societies Act or any other such act relevant to the purpose." Stalin K, spokesperson for the Community Radio Forum - an association of community radio broadcasters, activists and academics - has welcomed the policy and said: "India will become the first country in South Asia to have a separate policy for community radio. We look forward to a genuine democratization of the country's airwaves when this policy comes into force."
Radio broadcaster Sajan Venniyoor said: "This policy has been cleared by the government 80 years after broadcasting started in India, 60 years after independence of the country and 11 years after the landmark Supreme Court judgment in 1995 which said that airwaves are public property and should be used for public good." Though civil society organisations are satisfied with the policy, there have been some dissenting voices as well. Dr Arun Mehta, who runs ICT company Telephony said: "News and current affairs is not part of this policy. What will people air 每 entertainment? The New Delhi based university Jamia Milia Islamia's community radio station has a surfeit of Urdu poetry, because without news and current affairs, they don't have much else." Mehta adds that even the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had recommended news and current affairs for community radio stations. "But we have to wait for the fine print as we do not as yet know what other surprises might be in store. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry still has to frame complete guidelines." Venniyoor disagrees: "The government has not allowed political and electoral news but besides that community radio stations can cover everything else. Moreover the focus is on community and local information, which has been allowed. An important point is that it is up to the people to decide what they want to air." The decision to allow five minutes of advertisements every hour has gone down well with community radio advocates. The Community Radio Forum said: "The new policy will not only open up community radio to NGOs, self-help groups and other community-based organizations, but will also allow them to become self-supporting through limited ad-revenue.
Experts are divided on the benefits that community radio can bring to people. Venniyoor says: "It depends on the imagination and the genius of NGOs and communities as to how they use it. Some may want to play local or folk music, others may want health or agricultural programmes. But we cannot be prescriptive on such issues." Mehta agrees: "Radio is like a newspaper for non-literate people. Therefore much depends upon people running and managing the radio stations as to where do their interests lie and what do they want out of the radio service." Project Manager at OneWorld TN Anuradha says: "If community radio does not take the voice of the people to policy makers, it might end up losing its shine. On the other hand rural communities can benefit immensely by airing behaviour change programmes and discussing local issues in their languages and dialects." ( by Rahul Kumar )
Bhoomi, part of e-Governance department in India has launched a new service for landowners. Landowners, who reside in places other than where their property is situated will get SMS alert from e-Governance department, Bhoomi. According to e-governance secretary Rajeev Chawla, the department will charge a fee for users who want this facility and their mobile numbers would be registered in the Bhoomi kiosk. The SMS alert would also be for legal transaction of land. The department is also planning for another service for those people who do not have mobile phones. Under this service, Bhoomi has availed 4.9 crore farmers and the department is charging INR 15 for per record.
Rural India is a phrase which is essentially synonymous with extreme poverty. In the era of globalization we hear more and more about the urban IT boom, world class infrastructure in India, but, by and large, the ideas about what's happening outside of the big cities seems pretty frozen in time. To discuss the two worlds in the same country Tehelka organized a summit of the powerless for building bridges between these two worlds. Through over one lakh farmers have committed suicide in the last ten years; there are many inspiring success stories that show the alternatives possible. The Green Revolution, the White Revolution, the creation of the Jal Biradri is just a few names in the list. Sharing the success stories of people who have led the rural transformation through their own innovation, speakers at the session provided a direction and motivation to many who intend to bring about social change. Speaking on the occasion Ashish kothari of kalp-. Vriksh said ※The inequality on the basis of caste, gender and class is prevalent in the society. The violence against the powerless is prevalent for a long time but at present state is also become violent in case of protest. He said that today there is a crisis in environment today.
The life support systems i.e. forest, water, land and air is neglected in all the planning and its lead to bleak future for our livelihood.§ According to Prakash Amte of Lok Biradari Prakalpa, the rural transformation is a way for providing sustainable development. He said that Lok Biradari Prakalpa (LBP) was set up in December, 1973 by a band of young men lead by Baba Amte at Hemalkasa in the Tahsil Bhamragad. The place is about 7 k.m. away from Taluka Place Bhamragad. The area is inhabited by the Madia Gond tribals. At the time LBP was formed, illiteracy in the area was almost total, medical care was unheard of. Shifting cultivation was the only kind of agriculture the tribal knew. Getting enough food was a constant struggle. Malaria (and lethal "cerebral malaria") was a constant scourge, as was wild animal attacks. Their sole contact with the outside world was through forest contractors and forest guards who spared no opportunity to exploit them. The last 25 years has seen significant changes in the area, in most part driven by the efforts of LBP and its volunteers. LBP runs a hospital that caters to 40,000 patients a year from 1,000 villages in a radius of 150 kms. Another important welfare project is a residential school for tribal children, more about which is discussed below.
Settled agriculture has now been adopted by the tribals, vegetable growing has become common (traditionally they grew only millets and rice), and watershed management projects are in place. Shri Rajendra Singh, water man of India and founder of Tarun Bharat Sangh said that with a view to fulfill the needs of the villagers, he started rural development and employment generation in 1985 at Gopalpura village by Water Conservation. He played a catalyzing role in the building of 8600 johads (water harvesting structures) in 1058 villages spread over 6500 sq.km. Out of these 3500 were built by TBS and as an after effect of these the community was motivated to build the remaining 5100 structures. For these 5100 structures only technical help was provided. The area covers parts of the contiguous districts of Alwar, Dausa, Sawai Madhopur, Karoli and Jaipur districts. Johads and the other appropriate water structures have also been built in the districts of Jaisalmer, Ajmer Udaipur and Bharatpur. As a result of these efforts five seasonal rivers in the northeastern Rajasthan area, that had nearly dried up have now become perennial.. After the regeneration of these rivers, the Govt. of Rajasthan gave contracts for fishing in certain stretches of Arvari River.
To oppose this policy and to protect fish, a three-month long Satyagraha was organized for not allowing any fishing. This Satyagraha resulted in reversal of govt. policy. To sustain this unity and the river in future a decentralized power model has been structured among the 70 villages of Arvari River. He also mentioned that the efforts towards water conservation have had numerous positive impacts on the communities inhabiting the area. Employment opportunities have increased and migration has reduced substantially. Manoj kumar of Nandi foundation said that about a third of India's billion-plus people, ie, over 350 million, are extremely poor - living on less than a dollar a day. And the numbers are only growing. Alleviating poverty from their lives can be possible only through a concerted effort and holistic approach. Nandi is making these efforts by working directly with the communities at the grassroots - creating and providing the underprivileged access to opportunities in Education, Health and Livelihood - the three main factors that cause poverty when not accessible. In this process, Nandi carries along the state and the civil society as partners. Nandi's programs in Education, Health and Livelihood are guided by a team of eminent highly qualified experts from various fields. He also said that the concept of powerful and powerless is comparative. Nobody is powerful in all aspect at the same time nobody is powerless in all aspects. The poor people are more powerful in terms of managing with nature and adjusting with ecology. ( by Nilay Ranjan )
For us, it is a great source of encouragement that more and more people are joining in to this much needed debate on ICT Policy issues in Pakistan. The group is growing rapidly with membership from all stakeholders. It includes media, academia, private sector, ICT practitioners and technologists, not only from within the country but also from abroad. Adam Clare from telecentre.org wrote on Pakistan ICT Policy list, "I'm not familiar with issues in Pakistan's IT policy, can somebody please outline some current concerns? For example where can improvements be made? I know that these questions are rather large, but anything to help would be nice. Also, I mentioned this list on the front page of telecentre.org because I think the more discussions we have about ICT, the more we can change. The first step is always educating people - then change can happen." The list is linked here: http://www.telecentre.org/en-tc/node/20886 Bytesforall.org and its volunteers community in Pakistan sincerely hope that the portal http://pakistanictpolicy.bytesforall.net and the newly initiated discussion list will help highlight various burning issues around ICT policy in Pakistan.
Microsoft, the world leading software company, will extend three-pronged strategy to Pakistan government for proliferation of Information Technology to bring about sustainable economic growth and bridge gap between the lower and the upper class of the society. Talking to Business Recorder Vice President, Corporate and Government Strategy Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa, Jan Muelfeit on Tuesday said the plan is to focus on three levels, education, local economy and E-governance. Giving details, he said such initiatives have positive impacts on the economic growth in many countries including Egypt where IT trained professionals have contributed substantially to their economy. At education level, he said there are programmes not just for students but also for teachers' capacity building and these would help in fortifying the already fertile IT ground in Pakistan. The company will also bring the financial institutions on board to manage computers, software and other equipment's at affordable prices besides establishing IT academies. "We will provide training to the people enabling them to move from bottom to upper class as IT industry also generate IT enabled jobs" adding that modern studies show that 60-70 percent GDP growth is driven by the IT services sector. Jan said that the technologies used in the right way could bring about tremendous economic growth and alleviate poverty.
The ways and means will be discussed with the government that how a joint mechanism between different organisations and the company could be evolved on this front. He hoped that during his meetings with the Pakistani officials in a couple of days, he would share the mechanism, and implementation plan. He, however, said that implementation of the initiatives in true letter and spirit would have positive impact on the economic growth of Pakistan. Jan said the issue was of great concern but the government is moving in the right direction to address it. "We are satisfied with the measures the government is taking and are conversant with the situation. We believe that the issue was of peculiar nature and could be addressed by adopting different strategies for different tiers of the society," he added. He said the Microsoft works with the government and corporate leaders to increase competitiveness and improve the economies, government services and education system. The company sees a huge business potential in Pakistan, he added.(by Zaheer Abbasi)
DHAKA, Bangladesh -- An Indo-Pakistan encounter, in war or cricket, leaves behind tonnes of bitterness and rivalry. But, in information and communication technology (ICT), the main regret facing techies from both sides of the troubled South Asian sub-continent, is why they can't work more effectively together, to tackle the common problems their people face.
Local language computing is a major headache for South Asia In part, the problem is caused by the reality that computing primarily created keeping in mind the less-complex 26-alphabet strong English language. In part, it has to do with the complex nature of writing South Asian languages. Or, the fact that techies here tend to be largely English-educated. Whatever the case, this causes a huge impact. Some South Asian languages have more speakers than a large European country. For instance, take Urdu, which has 60 million speakers globally, including in both Pakistan and India. Hindi has many times more that figure, and there are other big and medium-sized languages crying for a computing solution. One of the issues discussed at the APC consultation in Dhaka, in April 2006, was that of language solutions. Commented BytesForAll's Shahzad, a participant at Dhaka: "Urdu is not only the national language of Pakistan, but is among the top six largest spoken languages in the world. But, Urdu still doesn't have a suitable, free and easy to use HTML editor, an Urdu email software, a messenger and freely available fonts. Who's responsible to set the very basics right?" Said he: "Just fail to understand (how this happens) with all the huge financial investments, special focus on IT education during the past six years, tall claims of government, massive injections of funds to resource and equip public sector universities in Pakistan, so called 'revolutions' in IT curricula, the return of brains -drained earlier." Shahzad argued that this might not be a "policy issue" but in fact a matter of willingness. He blogged: "I have seen some students' projects though, which could easily be refined and put on some websites for free downloads. But who cares? The dilemma of Urdu continues... don't know for how long!"
Localisation as a passport One of the discussions at the April 2006 APC South Asia ICT policy consultation focused on localisation and free/libre and open source software (FOSS). Some ideas, and a lot of goodwill, came up over how common solutions could be found. Ravikant of New Delhi's Sarai.net and Bal Krishna of Kathmandu, Nepal were the initiators of this session. Ravikant himself, along with quite a few others on both sides of the border, advocates working together. Incidentally, on the IT front, things have worked out pretty smoothly between Bangladesh and its Indian neighbours. The Ankur project is often cited as a successful example of cross-border solutions in localisation on the free software front. The focus at the Dhaka consultation was to share information, learn from each other＊s experiences, do a status-check, and look at critical problems being faced by those working in South Asia to translate software into their local languages. "We need to come together so that languages like Urdu (prominent in both Pakistan and North India) and Bangla (spoken widely in both Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal) can share tools and solution across borders. Newer and smaller regional languages could then use our energy, expertise, experience and model (to work out solutions of their own)," it was suggested. The questions remained as to know who could assist in this task. Some said everybody who realised the importance of the language barriers could assist. Others, talking in more concrete terms said that primarily, by talking about it in their respective areas of operation, it would already help. It was felt that wider organisations, having a reach across countries, could be a major boost. Setting up a South Asian Consortium on Localisation was thereby seen as a salutary initiative.
Lessons from Nepal Bal Krishna Bal, the project manager of the PAN Localization Project at Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya, PatanDhoka, Nepal, tells of an interesting experience in working towards Nepali language solutions in that part of South Asia. Their institution, the Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya (MPP), felt the need for the electronic cataloguing of its collection of books some four years back. This was not possible, using the existing fonts of Nepali like Preeti and Kanchan. The MPP, a principal archiving house, therefore decided to simply get involved in developing software in Nepali.At that point, existing Nepali fonts lacked data processing facilities like "Sorting" and "Find and Replace". They also lacked uniformity in terms of keyboard mapping of the Nepali characters, thus making Nepali typing difficult to the general public.In March 2002, the Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya undertook a Font Standardization Project, which was assisted by the Ministry of Science and Technology and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).This project's results led to the inception of Unicode in Nepal - an encoding scheme that assigns unique code to every character of standard writing scripts of the world. Under the project, Unicode compatible fonts like Kalimati, Kanjirowa, Thakwa Robinson along with two keyboard drivers, namely the Nepali Unicode Keyboard Romanized and Nepali Unicode Keyboard Traditional, were developed.With the development of the keyboard software, Nepali typing has become drastically simple to learn.
The development of the Unicode compatible fonts has enabled data processing for the Nepali language.But this was just the beginning, as Bal narrates. "Owing to the fact that a larger Nepali population is deprived of the usage of computers because of the language barrier i.e. English which is the communicating language of the computers, MPP then put the objectives of developing an operating system and localised software applications in Nepali," said Bal. It undertook the 30 months long PAN Localization Project between January 2004 and June 2006. This initiative was supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada and administered by the National University of Computers and Emerging Sciences (NUCES), Lahore, Pakistan. MPP contributed the Nepal component of the released the localised operating system NepaLinux 1.0 on December 22, 2005. Among other utilities available on the CD, are the Nepali spell checker, a thesaurus and Nepali Unicode support. "NepaLinux 1.0 is a Debian and Morphix based GNU/Linux distribution focused for Desktop usage in Nepali Language Computing. Apart from the operating system in Nepali, the CD package comprises a localised GNOME desktop environment, the OpenOffice.Org suite and the Mozilla (internet browser) suite," Bal explains. "With the operating system in Nepali developed, MPP is aiming to focus more on advance language processing and mobile computing applications in future. MPP's works have been increasingly supported both from national and international levels," says Bal.
The Government will tomorrow introduce legislation into Parliament to give effect to key elements of its media reform proposals, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan announced today. It is the Government＊s expectation that the Senate will follow the usual process and refer the package of Bills to the Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts 每 Standing Committee for inquiry and report by Thursday 5 October 2006. The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Television) Bill 2006, Television Licence Fees Amendment Bill 2006 and Broadcasting Services Amendment (Media Ownership) Bill 2006 will be introduced into the Senate. The Communications Legislation Amendment (Enforcement Powers) Bill 2006 will be introduced into the House of Representatives, as it contains appropriation measures. These Bills contain the major planks of the Government＊s media reform package including proposed changes to the cross media and foreign ownership provisions,§ Senator Coonan said.
※Also contained in the Bills are measures to implement changes to the regulatory regime for digital television, several changes to the operation of the anti-siphoning scheme and measures to move the power to allocate new commercial television licences from the regulator 每 the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) 每 to the Government. ※The Bill to be introduced into the House of Representatives will implement already announced changes in relation to ACMA＊s enforcement powers. ※I welcome the opportunity for all issues relating to these important reforms to be considered by the Senate Committee and I encourage all interested stakeholders to make submissions as appropriate. ※I look forward to reviewing the Committee＊s report at the appropriate time and acknowledge the interest of my colleagues in ensuring Australian consumers are best placed to take advantage of the digital age and the benefits that this legislation will enable,§ Senator Coonan said. Legislation to give effect to the Government＊s announcement that it will allocate two channels of currently available spectrum for new digital services will be introduced shortly.
ANY attempt by internet service providers to favour some online services or restrict others will be examined by the competition regulator, which is looking at the thorny issue of net neutrality. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel said his organisation had begun looking at the issue, but would not necessarily take the same approach as US authorities, which had made it a political hot potato. "That debate has been occurring in the US Congress, and is not necessarily aligned with a regulatory debate we might have," he said. US online content heavyweights such as Google and Microsoft, have lobbied in Washington to ensure that internet service providers can't charge them to provide guaranteed access to their networks, or a guaranteed quality of service. Service providers in the US argued that they should be able to decide how their networks were used, with no neutrality of access obligation, and reserving the right to offer high-speed or private channels to those willing to pay. The issue looms as an important one in Australia, where consumers lack access to high-capacity connections available overseas and telcos are increasingly positioning themselves as media players.
For example, Apple is understood to have held back its Australian launch of television and movie video services available on iTunes in the US because of concerns that our infrastructure would not provide an acceptable user experience. The ACCC considered the market capable of dealing with the issue of neutral access for consumers, Mr Samuel said. "We are taking that view, and I emphasise at this stage that there is a fair degree of competition out there among ISPs and network operators," he said. If, for example, a network decided to ban internet telephony service Skype from its network or restrict its operation, consumers could switch to another service provider that didn't have such restrictions, Mr Samuel said. Some Australian ISPs practise a form of service differentiation, "deprioritising" or "shaping" traffic generated from peer-to-peer file sharing services such as BitTorrent, that allow users to download huge amounts of data, including full-length DVD-quality movies - often illegally. Earlier this month, ISP Exetel said it would cut the download speed on peer-to-peer services to ease network congestion and to save on interconnect charges.
Similarly, it was revealed last week that iBurst reseller Chilli Internet planned to temporarily cut off users using peer-to-peer services once they had exceeded their monthly data allowance. However, the number of legitimate sources of rich online content is growing rapidly. YouTube claims more than 100 million views daily. While much of its content is amateur, professionals are increasingly looking to the web as a delivery stream. For example, Skype's founders last week told a Danish newspaper they were planning an advertising-supported online video service that could mirror commercial television. In Australia, Telstra paid more than $80 million for the online and mobile phone rights to AFL and V8 Supercar motor racing. With much of the video content being US-based, heavy downloads by Australian users were expensive for local ISPs, said Phil Sweeney, administrator of broadband user forum Whirlpool. The debate on net neutrality in Australia had focussed on end-user access, to date, he said. However, even if a service provider began to shape or filter traffic to screen out services such as peer-to-peer downloads, it was relatively easy for users to switch providers to another provider.
"The users may expect ISPs to do things like introduce charges, or change the parameters of the plan, but they don't expect them to start playing with the actual internet connection," he said. Service providers based their plans on the assumption that users would not use most of their monthly data allowance, he said. Heavy users that took up most or all of their cap were unprofitable, so service providers would be happy to see them move to another provider, he said. "There is always going to be another service provider that will take them, and new ones keep popping up all the time." The problem mainly affected small providers, which did not have the scale to absorb the impact of bandwidth-hungry users, he said. "The ISPs that we have seen do it so far have not been the premium ones. They have been the ones that operate cheap plans and are probably operating on small margins."
THE number of 3G subscribers in Australia will hit 2.7 million by the end of the year, an increase of a million during the second half of 2006, according to researcher Market Clarity. Despite a predicted plethora of Christmas 3G products, however, the battle to sell high-speed phones is not expected until next year, when most networks have completed their rollouts and have compatible handsets. Market Clarity chief executive Shara Evans said factors driving the increase in 3G uptake this year included Hutchison's campaign to switch users from its Orange 2G CDMA service to its third-generation 3 service, the launch of Telstra's Next G network and the availability of 3G services from all major carriers. Ms Evans said, however, the question of whether people would use 3G-specific services or simply carry on using phones mainly as a voice device had yet to be answered. Consumers could use high-speed mobile services to access entertainment, but business would be the first market for high-speed downlink packet access oriented services, she said. Market Clarity's prediction came as Hutchison announced a range of mobile data plans designed to tempt fixed-line internet subscribers and take the fight to Telstra's Next G network. The plans, ranging from a $29 monthly 200MB service to a $69 monthly 2GB plan, are designed to exploit the coming HSDPA upgrade to Hutchison's network.
An adjunct to the 3G standard, the HSDPA protocol delivers real-world data download speeds of up to 1500Kbps. Hutchison's upgrade will begin in Brisbane, with other state capitals expected to follow in the first quarter of next year. "As HSDPA becomes available in the different states, we will promote it on a local level," Hutchison mobile broadband product marketing manager Klaas Raaijmakres said. A broader range of HSDPA handsets is not expected to be marketed until March. Vodafone spokesman Greg Spears said handset availability meant the company would concentrate on selling its HSDPA capacity to business users. "The play is very much on the business side of things for us at the moment," he said. "We will take it out to the mass market some time early to mid next year." With 247,000 3G subscribers at the end of September, Vodafone has a handy lead over Optus, which says it had 184,000 3G subscribers at that time. Optus shares its network with Vodafone, but it has yet to move beyond a test of HSDPA services, which it is undertaking in Canberra and western Sydney in conjunction with Nokia. Telstra, meanwhile, is heavily promoting its HSDPA-based Next G service in regional and metropolitan areas, promoting handsets and data cards for laptops. Telstra declines to reveal its subscriber numbers, but it is understood the Next G service had at least 30,000 subscribers at the end of October, less than a month after its launch. "In my view there is a window of opportunity for 3G between now and late 2007 and early 2008, before early WiMAX services start to become available," Ms Evans said. Mobile WiMAX could undercut cellular-based services on price because it may need less infrastructure, she said.
NEW copyright legislation is likely to cause more problems than it solves, lawyers have warned. The Government has failed to fix problems with the old Act, they say. The lawyers dispute claims by the internet industry that common acts such as singing Happy Birthday or filming a rock concert with a mobile phone would suddenly become a crime, but they say the legislation is too hard on consumers. The Internet Industry Association, which claimed last week that singing Happy Birthday could result in a $6600 fine, has already been forced to back down, admitting it got that example wrong because the song was not copyrighted in Australia. The association claimed that recording a concert on a mobile phone and distributing it would become illegal under the new legislation, but lawyers argued that recording a performance was already a criminal offence. "What the kids are doing in recording the performance is already a crime," Hunt and Hunt partner Cathy Logan said. "I would favour concert-goers being allowed to film for their own use," but their rights should not extend to putting it on YouTube. The association claimed the new legislation would make it a crime to record and post to the internet footage from a school concert. Lawyers told The Australian this was already the case and that performers were protected at present by criminal law.
Ms Logan said the communication of a performer's work, including a school play, by for example posting it to a website, was already illegal. "The current Act is heavy-handed and that is not changed by the reforms," she said. Other lawyers said little had changed, and much of the behaviour nominated by the internet industry was already illegal. "It's a beat-up," Gilbert and Tobin partner Michael Williams said. "It's difficult to understand why internet service providers have come out with a scaremongering campaign. "For a long time it has been illegal to bootleg performances, and that doesn't change whether you're using a mobile phone or a tape recorder." Mr Williams, who acted for the music industry in its case against filesharing network Kazaa, said existing laws already allowed police to "round up and charge" copyright infringers. Internet Industry Association chief executive Peter Coroneos said the laws introduced a number of new criminal offences. "We're not beating this up," he said. "It would suit the interests of those who want these laws to go through to downplay their effect." Most lawyers agree there is a problem in the provisions allowing users to format-shift to iPods and other MP3 players. Users face prosecution because the MP3 player creates an extra copy of the music when it syncs with a PC. Another major change is the introduction of so-called strict liability offences, allowing police to fine people who claim not to know they were breaking the law.
CONSUMERS' reluctance to embrace digital television has failed to secure a promise of subsidies for low-income families in a digital action plan to be unveiled today. Viewers without a digital TV could be left in the dark by 2012 as the government phases out the old analog system and forces TV stations to broadcast a digital signal. There are also concerns about potential digital blackspots. Although the Howard Government has not ruled out offering subsidies to encourage viewers to make the switch in the lead-up to the 2007 election, the new blueprint does not consider subsidies. Communications Minister Helen Coonan will unveil the digital action plan today at the Australian Communications and Media Authority conference. Media understands a new body will be established to oversee the switchover to digital, which will be called Digital Australia and will be backed by more than $20 million to help drive a faster digital switchover. The report says the Government does not want any community or household to be left without access to the benefits of digital TV. "We recognise that some Australians may find it difficult to make the switch to digital due to personal circumstances or geographical location," it states. However, there is no promise of immediate sweeteners in the report. Digital Australia will be charged with the task of co-ordinating the efforts of industry, the government, the regulator, manufacturers and consumers.
Under the cross and foreign media reforms that secured Senate support earlier this year, the Government announced new services designed to increase diversity and encourage the drive to digital. However, the Government is yet to reveal the proclamation date for the new laws, ensuring that intense activity in the media industry and the stock market in recent weeks has been conducted under the old laws in preparation for the new regime. The Government believes the new digital offerings will encourage families to independently make the switch. Two new licences will be allocated, including a mobile TV licence that is expected to spark strong interest when the auction commences next year. Broadcasters will also be permitted to add digital multichannels from next year. According to Digital Broadcasting Australia, the estimated home take-up or penetration of free-to-view digital television has reached 1.8 million, or about 23 per cent of homes. In comparison with Britain, where up to 70 per cent of households have access to digital TV, Australia's take-up rate remains low. Acting Opposition communications spokesman Lindsay Tanner said yesterday Australia lags well behind. "This Government has held back the take-up of digital television for nearly decade," he said. "This plan will do little to drive digital take-up. There is no money for the creation of new digital content to encourage consumers to invest in the equipment and there is no money to ensure that the poor and disadvantaged won't be left staring at blank screens when analog TV is switched off."
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, today released a $20 million Digital Action Plan to help guide Australia＊s transition to digital television. Ready, Get Set, Go Digital 每 A Digital Action Plan for Australia outlines key steps the Government will take on the road to digital switchover and includes the creation of a dedicated switchover body 每 Digital Australia 每 which will be tasked with coordinating the efforts of Government, industry, manufacturers, the regulator and consumers in the lead-up to switchover. ※As technology evolves, consumers are demanding always-on, anywhere access to their favourite content 每 whether it is on the television, their mobile phone or their computer,§ Senator Coonan said. ※It is this passion for new services and improved technology that is driving the international switch to digital. Digital television is more efficient, more interactive, offers better picture and sound quality and delivers innovative new services to consumers. Across the globe Governments are considering how best to help their countries make the digital switch. For its part, the Government wants to work towards a Digital Australia for the many benefits it brings.
※Australian consumers will see the emergence of a range of new digital only services to help make the digital experience more attractive. New digital channels will emerge and current free-to-air broadcasters will be able to boost their range of services with additional digital channels. ※In addition to improved picture and sound quality and new services for Australian consumers, the switch to digital will also deliver a digital dividend to all Australians by bringing to an end the costly simulcast period and freeing up valuable spectrum for better and more efficient use. ※Over the next few years Australians will hear more and more about digital 每 its benefits, new channels that will be on offer and information about Australia＊s transition to digital switchover which will commence in 2010-2012. During the transition to digital television the Government＊s priority is consumers - we want to ensure Australians are not left behind in the switch to digital television. ※The Government will work closely with the broadcasting industry to ensure the transition to digital switchover is as smooth as possible and keep consumers informed every step of the way. This is an exciting moment for Australian television - the journey to a Digital Australia has begun.
The Minister for Information and Communications, Isireli Leweniqila, presented for Cabinet＊s information a progress report on the new National Archives building. The report explained that the new facility was aimed at addressing the immediate and long-term needs for storage records, with consideration for electronic, digital records and audio visual materials belonging to the Government of Fiji. ※The new National Archives building project was initially included in Government＊s Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) for 2003-2005 and is being carried over to the current PSIP period 2006-2008. ※The facility would increase the capacity of the National Archives to better service the information needs of citizens with emphasis on efficiency, effectiveness and friendliness in customer service.§ According to the report, the project involved the construction of a new three-level purpose built Archives building and the refurbishment and upgrading of existing ones. ※By the end of last year, works had been completed with site excavation, construction of part of the retaining walls and building of foundations and pads. ※The total estimated project cost is $3.8m and balance of funds to complete the building works have been made available in the 2007 Budget. ※By the end of this year, about 44 percent of the construction works would have been completed.§ The new complex is expected to be completed by December 2007.
The Government has tweaked its e-government strategy for the third time to try to provide greater clarity about the results it hopes to achieve. It has added a new goal of transforming people's engagement with government by 2020 "as increasing and innovative use is made of the opportunities offered by network technologies". Much has changed since the Government's first "e-government vision" in May 2000 - not least the bursting of the dotcom bubble and the abandonment in 2003 of a flagship multimillion dollar project to build a centralised system that would have let government agencies buy from suppliers over the Internet. State Service Commission deputy commissioner Laurence Millar says e-government initiatives remain relevant. "New Zealand can't afford anything other than world-class government. We have a number of challenges, such as distance and our small population, and we need low-friction, lowcompliance, efficient government." He says governments worldwide are finding it hard to measure "transformation" and there is considerable interest from other OECD countries in New Zealand's approach. The latest e-government strategy asks 15 questions of agencies, such as whether people can easily get information they need and don't need to provide the same information to one agency that they have already provided to another. It also asks whether government workers put "getting results for New Zealanders" ahead of the interests of the agency for which they work.
Another theme of the revised strategy is that information held by agencies will become an increasingly important resource for businesses. Steve Hodgkinson, a Kiwi analyst with research firm Ovum in Australia, says working together on e-government transformation will require a change of mindset for public servants. While departments focusing on their own goals has served governments well for 30 years or so, "it's not good when governments' policy aspirations are tending toward more joined-up services, more holistic approaches." Dr Hodgkinson says the traditional model is often deeply ingrained in public-sector attitudes, and this will make change difficult. The needs of departments on one hand and Government on the other pull public sector chief information officers in two directions. This is only made worse by traditional micro-managing of each department's budget, he says, pulling their attention in a third direction, from goals to inputs. But a radical restructuring may do more harm than good, since such a "sledgehammer" approach will bring unintended consequences. Instead, Dr Hodgkinson recommends more constraints on public sector executives, such as what software to buy, to make it easier for departments to work together. Public sector CIOs should also be paid bonuses based on collaboration with other departments, not just if they meet internal goals. He says the Australian state of Victoria is moving in this direction with a pilot that puts department heads in charge of joining up services in a specific area. New Zealand's e-government strategy promotes a "federated enterprise architecture", based on common technical standards. Mr Millar says he is unsure if it would make sense to appoint a chief information officer to take overall charge of government IT. "We have a group of CIOs working very well together, so I don't see a compelling case for it."
"China Suppliers" (www.china.cn), the largest government-run E-business website in the country, was officially put into operation here on Monday. "China Suppliers" is established and operated by the China Internet Information Center (www.china.com.cn) under the State Council's Information Office, which publishes news and information in 10 languages. "China Suppliers" is the government's first large-scale involvement in the country's E-business, a fledgling industry that has been the domain of private companies, said a local observer. The newly-opened commercial website, with the support of the Ministry of Commerce, targets small businesses that want to access international markets. During its trial operation over the past month, some 3.6 million companies registered and it published 40 million commercial messages. In 2005, China's on-line trade reached 650 billion yuan (81 billion US dollars) in sales, with 1.53 million domestic companies engaged in E-business. Until recently, all major Chinese commercial websites were run by private firms.
A Chinese court which adopted a computer software system to help judges sentence criminals has seen no appeals after more than 1,000 criminal cases. The software, tested for two years in a court in Zibo, east China's Shandong Province, was applied in more than 100 different crimes and aimed at ensuring standardized decisions on prison terms. A local software company and a Beijing-based software company have worked with the Zichuan District Court to develop the program and input laws and judicial interpretations since 2003. Judges enter the details of a case and the system suggests a sentence under a minute. Judges still have the discretion to adjust the sentence on the basis of their own judgment to the case. The Legal Daily newspaper cited a traffic accident case, when a judge input "a traffic accident in which one person died" and the computer stated the "basic sentence should be one year". The judge then input "The accused should bear 90 percent of the responsibility for the accident", and the screen showed "an increase of nine months". The judge input "The accused confessed and promised compensation", and the software replied "reduce the sentence duration by 15 to 25 percent". Finally the judging panel imposed a 13-months jail term. "I believe this computer software system will promote judicial work in China," said Wang Jiandong, chief justice of Zichuan district court, adding that it would help prevent judicial abuse. "Computers, with no emotion or desire, are unaffected by external factors in making decisions. That's why we use it in college enrollments and traffic scrutiny," said Zhang Baosheng, vice president of China University of Political Science and Law. However, other experts argued that trials were very complicated, requiring a good grasp of legal knowledge and plenty of practical experience. Therefore only decisions of judges are trustful.
China has opened an interactive Internet portal to help raise awareness of health and healthy lifestyles. The website, www.cm800.com, features live video to allow medical experts and netizens to interact. Sponsored by the Chinese Medical Doctor Association, the website offers a wide range of services. Netizens can surf online for medical news, developments in the medical market, health care information for different age groups and seek advice from medical experts from across the country. Besides the online system, video broadcasting systems will also be set up in major medical institutions, schools, public areas like train stations and shopping centers to teach people how to guard against illnesses and live health lifestyles.
In response to new European Union (EU) regulations on chemicals which may take effect in 2007 China launched a website on Thursday. The website, reach.tbt-sps.gov.cn, was opened by the State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and was designed to provide first-hand information to enterprises and offer them consultations and services, said an official with the body. The administration was also making efforts to discuss and consult with the EU regarding the so-called REACH regulation (registration, evaluation and authorization of chemicals) which would oblige companies to register all chemicals they use, provide information about them and identify any potential hazards. The European Parliament on Tuesday started the final phase of approving the controversial new rules after three years of heated debate. The regulations are designed to protect the public from the adverse effects of chemicals found in a wide range of products such as paint, detergents, cars and computers.
As the Internet and online games continue to spread through Chinese society, the authorities have announced measures to prevent the country's teenagers from becoming addicted to the Internet. "We should make great efforts to develop 'green' on-line games, which are suitable for teenagers, and actively recommend them to teenagers," said a statement jointly published by the Civilization Office with the Spiritual Civilization Steering Committee, the Central Committee of Communist Youth League of China, the State Press and Publication Administration, the Ministry of Information Industry and the Ministry of Culture. The ten measures listed in the statement include the compilation and publication of decent books and movies and the organization of Internet-related activities for teenagers. The authorities said they would encourage young game players to set up alliances in a bid to promote healthy on-line entertainment. A 2005 survey showed 13 percent of young Internet users were addicts and 90 percent of juvenile crimes related to Internet addiction. Experts said violence, online chatting, pornography and online gambling were major attractions. The statement announced that technical methods would be explored and applied to prevent teenagers from being harmed by unhealthy on-line information and help teenagers out of Internet addiction. The authorities would also help set up more rehabilitation and treatment agencies for addicted youth. Response centers would be established to deal with complaints and reports of unhealthy on-line behavior. China, with 111 million Internet users, is the world's second largest Internet market after the United States.
The Internet Society of China has set up an anti-malicious software-working group to deal with increasing complaints from Chinese Internet-surfers. The working group is to conduct research in the field and will work out the definition, characteristics and categories of malicious software, and urge enterprises in the sector to exercise self-discipline, according to industry insiders. Pop-up advertisements and spy ware programs, as well as junk-mail messages have long plagued Chinese computer users. An anti-hooligan software organization in Beijing, which was established by netizens spontaneously, recently launched lawsuits against large Internet companies making and forcing the installation of software that cannot be removed. The trial of a malicious software case between Beijing-based Zhongsou search Engine Company and a member of the anti-hooligan software organization started on Friday in Beijing. Cases between the organization and some other major Internet firms such as Yahoo and eBay will go to court later. Major portal websites such as Sina.com.cn, Netease.com, Yahoo.com.cn and Baidu.com have signed a self-discipline agreement on refusing malicious software. An official from the Ministry of Information Industry said the working group plays an important role in curbing malicious software. "Drafting rules through industry organizations of the industry can serve as by-laws," said Zhan Zhongle, professor of the law school of the Peking University.
Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou shared his experience in developing a cyber city Thursday at the opening of a two-day forum in Taipei. Speaking at the 2006 Taipei Venture & Technology Series Forum, the mayor noted that Taipei traffic is heavy as space for roads is limited, saying this is why he has worked on turning Taipei into a cyber city since first assuming the mayorship eight years ago. Ma, who is at the end of his second term, said Taipei residents now have wireless network access at any time or place. Taipei was certified by the San Francisco-based JIWIRE INC., a leading provider of wireless broadband services, as the "world's largest Wi-Fi network city" in June this year, Ma said.
With more and more students graduating from China's universities, China has launched an Internet League to help graduates find a job. A staggering 4.95 million students will graduate from Chinese universities in 2007, 820,000 more than in 2006, according to a conference on employment services for university graduates held here Monday. State Councilor Chen Zhili attended the conference at which a month-long online recruitment fair was unveiled. The Internet League consists of portals like http:// www.myjob.edu.cn, http:// www.chrm.gov.cn, http://www.lm.gov.cn, http://www.sme.gov.cn and other cooperative websites. The League plans to hold an on-line recruitment fair every quarter to help university graduates find a job. The Internet League is the brainchild of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Personnel, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the National Development and Reform Commission, the State-owned Assets Supervision and the Administration Commission of the State Council. Employers and graduates will be able to share online information. Graduates can access job information and employers can carry out long-distance online interviews with graduate candidates, according to the League. ※The League will allow government departments, employers, universities and graduates to share information at any place and any time," said League sources, pointing out that "the online job fair will reduce costs for both graduates and employers." "The Internet League shows that employment services for university graduates in China have entered a new stage," said Zhao Qinping, vice minister of education. China's Ministry of Personnel on Saturday began its annual recruitment of millions of university graduates, with more than 480,000 positions up for grabs online and at job fairs around the country. A total of 121 local human resources departments and job service websites and 26,000 employment units will take part in 126 job fairs across the country including those held on the internet.
National communications infrastructure has developed adequately, said the managing director of the Communications Infrastructure Company here on Tuesday, adding that the grounds have been prepared for achieving the e-commerce targets. Nasser Yousef-Pour told ILNA that the company is ready to provide all banks and companies involved in e-commerce activities with technical services, adding, however, that e-commerce will not materialize as long as there is no law on tackling Internet-related offenses. ※This law has now become a must due to increasing Internet offences,※ he said, adding that another constraint is the low level of higher education among bank clerks in Iran. ※Most bank clerks here have not attended university and work with traditional systems,※ he said, stressing that replacing the present outdated systems with digital technologies would demand extensive training. Minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Mohammad Soleimani said in May that the ministry is ready to provide the banking system with 200,000 communication ports. The minister told ILNA that there are 60,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables in Iran, which provides a suitable ground for developing digital communications and electronic banking in the country. He said the national fiber optic network will expand by 15,000 kilometers by the closing year of the Fourth Five-Year Plan (2005-2010), stressing that a specialized working group has been formed to help reinforce digital communications infrastructure and boost network security.
Rakuten Inc. (4755.Q: Quote, NEWS, Research), Japan's biggest online shopping mall, said on Thursday it is interested in expanding overseas in the e-commerce sector next year. Rakuten also said it aims to start as many as 30 new businesses in 2007.
Four years later after the introduction of the Government e-Procurement system (GePs), remarkable improvement has been made in the transparency of Korea＊s public procurement system, according to Korea's public procurement agency. Data released by the Public Procurement Service (PPS) on October 10 showed the operational transparency for ※Nara Jangteo,§ or the Korea Online E-Procurement System (KONEPS), has been noticeably upgraded through the opening of all up-to-date procurement transaction information between PPS and companies online and the automation of public procurement management since the launch of KONEPS in 2002. PPS explained that posting all information on the Internet, including bidding information announcements, supplier registrations, final payment to suppliers and the automation of procurement administration, has helped the agency improve transparency, rooting out past management irregularities between PPS officers and companies to zero since 2004. In the past, the transparency of the Korea＊s public procurement operation was not highly recognized. In 2001, Korea was ranked 42nd in the Corporate Transparency Index (CTI) assessed by the Transparency International (TI) and 40th in 2002. Since the introduction of the online procurement system, however, KONEPS was selected as an exemplary case for procurement at the OECD anti-corruption forum in 2004. In 2005, KONEPS scored 8.65 points in the transparency index assessed by the Korea Independence Commission Against Corruption (KICAC). It had received 6.8 points in 2002. The newly introduced online information opening system enables PPS to prevent any possible corruption case from arising during procurement. Corporations no longer need to visit local PPS offices or ask favors to PPS staff in order to make successful bids as it had to do so in the past, thanks to the transparent operational system that rooted out the possibility of any procurement transaction irregularities. Moreover, KONEPS received its first UN Public Service Award in 2003.
It also received a Global IT Excellence Award from the World Information Technology and Service Alliance (WITSA) in 2006, positioning itself as a world-class brand for electronic public procurement. With its superiority being recognized by developing nations such as Vietnam, KONEPS has become one of the world＊s largest cyber markets, recording a total trade volume of 4.3 trillion won as of 2005. The annual transaction volume has grown by 20 percent every year since 2003. Currently, 35,000 institutions and 150,000 companies use KONEPS. As of September this year, the number of institutions using KONEPS increased 18 percent, while the number of firms rose 64 percent. The amount of government money saved annually, in particular, through the enforcement of the electronic procurement operation is estimated at 4.5 trillion won. So far, the e-market procurement system has saved the government an estimated 18 trillion since its launch. Previously, public procurement required complicated formalities and a huge amount of paperwork, which resulted in average expenses of 150,000 won for contracts less than one billion won and 350,000 won for transactions higher than that. According to PPS, a 400-page supply contract needed 1,700 in-house stamps of approval, prior to the first enforcement of electronic procurement in 2001. PPS plans to upgrade the quality of KONEPS service by securing ample items and boosting convenience, while consolidating its ground as the global leader of electronic procurement by expanding international cooperation with other procurement agencies overseas. To this aim, PPS plans to extend its on-demand purchase service system, which enables institutions to tailor orders to fit their unique needs; establish a multi-faceted shopping mall to promote an online market; and strengthen international cooperation and e-procurement promotional activities.
The Korea Information Security Agency (KISA) on Friday (Oct. 20) launched a knowledge portal on information protection, Secure Net (www.securenet.or.kr), the Ministry of Information and The Korea Information Security Agency (KISA) on Friday (Oct. 20) launched a knowledge portal on information protection, Secure Net (www.securenet.or.kr), the Ministry of Information and Communication said. It will include an official outlet for Internet users to actively exchange knowledge as both producers and consumers in the information security field, which has been monopolized by specialists, an official said. The government will be able to coordinate the interests of different consumers through the Net. Academia and research institutes will obtain a variety of ideas, while businesses will be able to find the needs of consumers in efficient ways, he said. The KISA, the portal operator, will attract some 700 specialist members by the end of this year and will appoint specialists in information security residing overseas as correspondents, he said. Content from the knowledge portal will also be available on Daum, one of the leading private portals in Korea, from November. Currently, some 10,000 theses from domestic universities, research institutes and organizations and reports produced at home and abroad are stored in a database. English, Chinese and other foreign language services will be introduced in 2008, the official said.
Korea received the top award for electronic governance system at the seventh International E-government Forum, the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs said yesterday. The award is given to nations that have the best records in the fields of e-democracy, e-public participation and e-governance. The three-day international forum ended in France today, with 45 participating countries. Seoul has been pushing its e-governance initiative since 2001, with the goal of narrowing the information gap between cities and regional villages, and improving communications between the metropolitan administration, citizens and businesses. Currently 305 e-governments (www.invil.org) operate nationwide, and the ministry plans to increase the number to over 800.
Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), the nation's financial regulator, on Thursday (Oct. 26) opened its renewed English homepage (www.fsc.go.kr) after giving it a facelift to provide better information on the country's financial supervision to foreign investors. The renewed website strengthens the introduction of the regulatory body. It also has charts and graphics as visual aids for easier understanding of rules and regulations.
KAZAKHSTAN: Defence Ministry Gets Electronic Digital Signature
Firuz Valiev is reported to have launched an electronic English-Russian-Uzbek dictionary for broad users o-n the global net, according to Narodnoye Slovo newspaper as of September 15, 2006. Trilingual dictionary database contains in 50,000 words and expressions, a considerable part of which entered the modern life in recent years. Mr. Valiev believes that he was in line with latest requirements of contemporary times and changes, took place as of late. Computer version of the dictionary allows instantly find the translation of the word in any proposed language block. Both Russian and Uzbek language people may use the dictionary. Developer also designed the database to systematize a special terminology in the area of finance in Uzbek. According to the author, this will allow uncover the significance of financial terms applicable to the current normative and legislative basis of Uzbekistan in the Russian and Uzbek languages. E-dictionary represents a profound interest for the financial establishments, state financial institutions, and others in the country. Program provides for fast browsing through words and expressions needed for the user, and requires the minimum computer memory. Besides, the convenient interface allows find a necessary term as in alphabetical order and also by the first letter of the sought word, independently from the search language.
The use of an electronic payment system will not only help promote transparency and efficiency but could also help fight fraud or other forms of illegal payment, especially in the procurement of goods and services. Director for the government and public sector of Visa International Asia Pacific, Dennis NG, told a seminar Thursday that the use of the electronic payment system in the government's procurement activities could help save a lot in state funds. Besides helping to reduce transaction costs, the electronic payment system, he added, could prevent government officers from marking up payments because it did not use documents such as receipts. "Normally, the government uses cash in making purchases. For verification, government officers usually use receipts that in some cases could be counterfeited," he said. With the electronic system, he said, payment would be made with cards and the payment receipts would be verified by the transaction statements issued by card-issuers, making it difficult for card users to cheat the system.
"In addition to promoting transparency and efficiency, the use of cards can also help cut transaction costs as there is no cost charged by the card issuers for the card usage," he said. "With the use of such as card, the holder can also receive special discounts from suppliers," he added. For instance, he said, the British government was able to save US$100 million annually after adopting the system. The U.S. government also saved $1.4 billion of the 2004 national budget thanks to the use of the electronic payment system, he said. Currently, he said, the system is used in government offices in a number of other countries such as Australia, Singapore, Brazil, Thailand and Germany. "The Thai government implemented its government services card in February 2006 and as of today, 80 agencies out of 217 have already signed up with the program," he said. Visa International Asia Pacific country manager Ellyana C. Fuad said that she had talked with some government institutions in Indonesia about the program. "They will study the program and hopefully they will join us soon," she said. She added that if there were state institutions interested in joining the program, then Visa would cooperate with banks to issue such cards. Currently, there are seven banks in Indonesia that issue Visa Debit cards including Bank Permata, Bank Lippo, Bank Niaga, Bank Buana, Bank Bukopin, Bank Mega and Bank Mandiri.
The government has launched an online demographic information system to produce national identity cards that incorporate the functions of a driver's license, insurance card, bank card, general election card and passport. The issuance of national identity cards for the entire population, including foreigners, began early this year and is slated to be completed in 2008 at the latest. The Director General for Demographic Administration Affairs at the Home Ministry, Abdul Rasyid Shaleh, said the online system is aimed at constructing an accurate database on the Indonesian population and reforming the chaotic registration system. "The online system to be built from the district to the central level is expected to help the government provide the newest, most accurate and reliable information on demographics. The database will be updated every day," he said Thursday. The new system begins with the construction of population databases in all subdistricts, regencies and mayoralties. The databases include ethnic and religious backgrounds, race, age and profession. "The national identity cards using the biometric technology bear only the name, photo and single ID number," said Rasyid. The new system, which is regulated in the bill on population administration, has been applied in 161 regencies and 26 mayoralties, including Jakarta, Aceh and Banten, on a trial basis.
If the project succeeds, it will be introduced nationwide. More than 26,000 special staff have been trained to operate the new system. "Such incidents as the inaccurate data on poverty and unemployment in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Aug. 16 speech are connected with the poor population administration system. The outdated data were taken from the National Development Planning Board and the Central Statistics Agency, which conduct a periodic demographic survey," he said. Rasyid said the cash aid program for the poor does not always reach its targets because the distribution is based on the chaotic registration of recipients. "A citizen with two to four identity cards could receive the cash aid more than once because they are registered under different addresses on their identity cards," he said. He pointed as an example to one staff member who owns six identity cards in Jakarta, Tangerang, Bogor and Bekasi. The bill expected to be passed into law in September also states that the identity card's number is permanent and cannot be used by anyone else. The identity cards will not include codes that have been criticized as discriminatory against certain ethnic groups, such as those currently used on the ID cards of Chinese-Indonesians. The online system will be used to register voters in the 2009 legislative and presidential elections.
Protection of an area, be it an office compound, a real estate complex, apartment building or public place, is a full-time job. That's why continuous monitoring is vital to ensure that there will be no security disturbances as otherwise businesses, which may have been built up over many years, will not only be harmed but will be destroyed in a very short time. The simplest thing to do in security maintenance is to station security guards round-the-clock. Unfortunately, owing to technological developments, manned security is not enough as security maintenance also necessitates the use of sophisticated equipment. Doors used to have peep-holes in them through which you could who was knocking on your door. Apartments in modern high-rise buildings can no longer use just peep-holes for security. Instead, an intercom is installed at the entrance to allow you to communicate with visitors before you decide whether to let them in. Today, a similar device, called the videocom, is used and allows you to see the faces of incoming guests.
Obviously, security equipment has enjoyed great progress to keep up with the advancements in other areas. Take, for example, the use of a password to enter a certain door to an office. If you forget the password, sophisticated mobile phone technology will help you retrieve this password. Just send an SMS to a certain number and, after going through the security procedure correctly, you get your password. It is true that security encompasses a wide scope. The security of an office, for example, is not the same as the security of an office building. Foreign embassies, large companies in the oil, industrial, mining and banking industries, for example, have their own respective needs for security. Security may start from the outermost part to the innermost part of an area, covering the road area in front of an office building, the entrance, the lobby, the lift and the offices. Security is also needed for other rooms such as data storage rooms, server rooms and so forth, as well as the emergency stairwell and the parking ground. Of course, the systems used to provide security that covers all the parts referred to earlier differ in accordance to their respective uses.
Is a system required only to monitor exits and entrances of people or is it needed to limit access only to certain people? Or, is a system needed to prevent certain people or goods from entering your office? "A security system covers a wide scope. It is not simply a CCTV system or an alarm system," said S. Rahardja, president director of PT Secom Indoprama, a fairly large company providing security system services. Indeed, there are various kinds of security equipment. It must be borne in mind that a high level of security is not always associated with the presence of a lot of security guards. Instead, it relies on the application of the right technology. If the right technology is applied, the level of security in a building will be higher and the people in the building will also feel more comfortable and secure. It is true that close circuit televisions (CCTV) may be the most popular security equipment. With the help of a tiny camera, a security officer can easily monitor a security condition. If a crime is committed, the CCTV recording may be used as an exhibit in court. That's why CCTV is often placed at theft-prone places, such as in supermarkets or ATM booths.
A CCTV camera, which is becoming smaller and smaller in size, is highly flexible and can be placed virtually anywhere. Another advantage of the CCTV system is that the installation of a CCTV is relatively easy. Even a wireless CCTV is available. Besides the CCTV, you can also use an access control based on biometrics technology, in which parts of the human body are used as a means of identity. To enter a certain area, for example, a fingerprint is used as a means of verification for an identification device placed near the door. (Of course, this system can work only for people whose fingerprint is in the data base of the system.) This fingerprint identification system ensures quite a high level of security because no two individuals have the same fingerprint. The same is also true of the retina. No two individuals have the same retina even though their eyes may be similar in shape and color. Also used in this type of identification system are the voice and facial structure. Biometrics technology can be applied anywhere, not just for access control. The technology may be used to prevent access to a any item deemed undesirable, such as a computer. It can also be used to prevent access to a particular room.
This security technology relies heavily on sensor. The sensor used tends to be expensive and the more sensitive the sensor, the more expensive it is. Besides sensor, data is also very important in biometrics technology. It is important for you to pay attention to how your data is kept in a system because biometrics technology relies on data. If the data stored is not secure or complete, there is a chance that your system could be infiltrated. In this regard, Israel, which has deep security concerns, has developed various sophisticated elements of information communications technology against threats, disturbances, constraints and challenges, particularly in the case of conflict with other countries. One of these sophisticated elements is TotalTrack, a product made by ioImage Ltd. This perimeter security system uses Video Threat Detection (VTD) technology. It can transform a security system into a smart guard that transforms the entire scrambled video security system into efficient and systemized security monitoring. The sophistication of TotalTrack lies in its ability to prevent acts of terror by means of intensive video detection using the highly accurate and complex algorithm technology with a very small probability of error.
This video security product is revolutionary in that it does not need a new video monitoring system as its monitoring is directly integrated with the CCTV system already installed. The TotalTrack system broadens the CCTV security system, which is forensic analytical in nature, to a proactive video system that provides comprehensive security. TotalTrack VTD automatically detects infiltration and can continuously trace infiltrators moving in prohibited areas. It is also capable of detecting items left within a certain video security area. A video security system is quite common today, including in Indonesia. One thing that Indonesia must learn from Israel is to pay proper attention to sophisticated security systems, because this country is still in danger of terror attacks.
After less than six months' preparation, the government-backed internet security committee will officially start work in March next year to protect the country's Internet infrastructure from cyber crime. The committee, which was established in September and is officially called the "Indonesian Information Infrastructure Security Incident Response Committee" (Id Sirtii), will be responsible for monitoring and recording all internet-based communications and transactions as part of the effort to curb cyber crime in Indonesia, which has one of the highest incidences in the world for this sort of crime. Director General of Posts and Telecommunications Basuki Yusuf Iskandar said in Jakarta on Wednesday that the committee's work would not interfere with the privacy of Internet users as monitoring would only be conducted in respect of internet protocol (IP) transactions, rather than content. "Even though the committee is sponsored by the government, it will work as an independent body and its members include IT experts, academics and professionals," Basuki said. The committee will monitor all internet protocol transactions in log files, comprising IP addresses, protocol identities, source and destination ports, and time stamps.
"This information can be used as evidence to support the efforts of our law enforcement agencies in combating cyber crime, not to mention piracy," Basuki said. Based on the ministerial decree establishing the committee, the National Police and the Attorney General's Office will also have representatives on the committee and will launch investigations should the information obtained by the committee indicate the commission of a crime. Meanwhile, Heru Nugroho, the secretary of the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association, lauded the establishment of the committee, saying that Indonesia badly needed to improve its image among global Internet-based vendors. "I recall that my friend's credit card was rejected by Amazon. This means that Indonesia is being excluded by the international community. We receive a lot of reports saying that people have been unable to conduct online transactions as their credit cards were refused." Heru said. The latest figures from the Asia-Pacific Network Information Center show that Indonesia has the highest level of cyber crime in the Asia-Pacific region, including carding, hacking, phishing (the practice of using e-mails to trick consumers into handing over personal information), and money laundering. As a result, Indonesia has been sidelined by global internet vendors.
An estimated US$50 billion in goods and services are sold over the Internet every year. In order to restore international trust in Indonesia, the government has called upon all telecommunications operators, and network access and internet service providers to support the committee in its work. "Everybody using the Internet, including corporations, must compile their log files within the set period of time so that if we need them to verify the commission of a crime, we can find the data we require," Basuki said. "In addition, Internet kiosks must record the identities of their customers so that we can trace those who use the Internet for criminal purposes." In relation to the preparations for the setting up of the committee, the Posts and Telecommunications Directorate General will hold a second tender at the end of January for the procurement of system monitoring software, as well as the hiring of system operators. The tender will be worth about Rp 12 billion ($1.3 million).
After the first tender for the procurement of hardware in early November, the government selected IT firm PT Esa Mandiri Teknologi, which submitted the lowest bid of Rp 4.09 million, as the tender winner. The runners-up were PT Dinamika Mandiri with a bid of Rp 4.1 billion and PT Sigma Caraka with a bid of Rp 4.7 billion.
Myanmar is striving to improve public internet services and planning to introduce 400 public internet service centers in 324 townships in the country within three years to facilitate communication links, according to local media. As the first phase of the project, 100 such centers, also known as the Public Access Centers (PAC), will be opened in the current fiscal year of 2006-07, the first year of the three-year project which began in April, the Myanmar Info-Tech disclosed. So far, 50 PAC have been set up in such areas as Yangon, Mandalay, Pyinmana, Pyay, Magway, Muse, Myitkyina, Monywa, Pathein and Taunggyi, it said. The internet services, which include E-mail and network game, were made available by the state-run Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) and the Myanmar Info-Tech. To improve the country's internet access, the authorities are also extending connections of Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line ( ADSL) to every township, setting the target to be met by the end of this year. According to the MPT, ADSL has already been installed in some areas of Yangon and the new capital of Nay Pyi Taw, and 7,000 more ADSL connections will be added to link the whole country under a national plan which also involves vast replacement of its existing telephone wires to make the internet connections 500 times faster than now. The present telephone wire capacity of 4 kilobytes per second would be upgraded to 2 megabytes per second, the MPT said. At present, internet subscribers are said to be frequently meeting with difficulties of downloading from the internet promptly. Some businessmen and companies relying on internet to run their businesses welcomed of the target to extend the ADSL installation to across the country, and hoped more would be done to improve the existing connections.
According to official statistics, the number of internet users in Myanmar reached over 70,000 as of the end of 2005, up from merely a few thousands in 2000, registering the highest rate of increase in five years in Southeast Asia region. Despite the sharp increase, the number of internet users in the country still stands the least compared with other SEA countries with one internet user per 1,000 population. Meanwhile, a Myanmar and a Canadian information and communication technology (ICT) companies have reached a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to run an internet service provider (ISP) in Myanmar as part of the country's bid to expand such services, earlier reports said. The ISP will be established by the Ahaed Co. of Myanmar and the Teleglobe of Canada and the internet-based telephone system will be extensively used after the establishment. Besides, a Hong Kong company, the SS8 Networks Inc., has also agreed with an ICT company of Myanmar to run security services for ISPs in Myanmar, according to reports. So far, Myanmar has launched some e-government systems including e-visa, e-passport, and e-procurement to effect management of government bodies. The country introduced e-education system in early 2001, with one ICT park (now known as Info-Tech) in Yangon and another ICT park (now known as Yadanabon Cyber Corporation) in Mandalay having been set up in the two following years to provide ICT services in the country.
The Malaysian Customs Department will provide electronic learning for its staff on all Customs-related tasks. Its director-general Datuk Abdul Rahman Abdul Hamid said the system would be implemented next month after the department had signed a memorandum of understanding with the World Customs Organisation. ※The MoU will be signed during my visit to Brussels in Belgium between Sept 19 and 23,§ he said here yesterday. ※The e-learning system will enable all Customs officers and department staff to learn every aspect of Customs-related tasks directly from the services provided by the organisation.§ Abdul Rahman, who visited SK Belemang near Serom here, said the system would also enable Customs personnel to know about relevant international operations. He said the e-learning would also be available to those in the private sector which had links with the department and agencies involved with Customs work. He said the new system would enable its staff and officers to be abreast of latest developments.
OCBC Bank (M) Bhd has been named Malaysia＊s best corporate Internet bank by leading US-based magazine Global Finance for the second consecutive year. This is barely three years after the bank rolled out its corporate online service, Velocity@ocbc. Head of group transaction banking Lok Ching Khee attributed the bank＊s success to its ※effectiveness across the entire range of the evaluation criteria§. ※This includes our strategy for attracting and servicing online customers, success in getting clients to use our web offerings, growth in online customer base, breadth of products, evidence of tangible benefits gained from the bank＊s internet initiatives, and website design and functionality,§ he told StarBiz. Velocity@ocbc is the bank＊s 24-hour online service that enables businesses to conduct banking enquiries and perform transactions worldwide via the Internet. Lok said the volume of transaction for the bank＊s Internet banking service had grown 10-fold as at the end of last year compared with the previous year. Among the products accessible through the online channel are current accounts, fixed deposit accounts, cashiers' orders, demand drafts, local and foreign telegraphic transfers, letters of credit, bank guarantees, stand-by letters of credit and treasury offerings. Online customers could also access cash management products such as bulk collection, electronic payment and salary crediting services, he added.
Lok said the number of customers using the bank＊s products online was also on the uptrend. In 2004, the average usage per customer of its products stood at three and this grew to more than four last year, driven mainly by the GIRO Interbank Payroll Service launched in March last year, he said. On OCBC＊s success in migrating businesses to Velocity@ocbc, Lok said this was due to its ※customer care model,§ developed during the early stages of implementation, which called for a high degree of the human touch at all points of a customer＊s experience with Internet banking. Velocity@ocbc, he said, was also designed to provide customised solutions to meet the needs of specific target markets. ※OCBC Bank＊s online corporate Internet banking services are backed by a team of cash specialists and call centre agents, who provide end-to-end support to instil trust and confidence in clients, helping them learn and embrace the changes brought about through the availability of the channel,§ he added. Lok added that the corporate Internet banking service had brought about cost efficiencies, productivity gains, and improved customer satisfaction, and better customer retention for the bank.
From http://biz.thestar.com.my 11/10/2006
Education Secretary Jesli Lapus wants information and communications technology integrated into basic education, and he is working hard to get more money for the purpose. Speaking at the 2nd National ICTs in Basic Education Congress, which started on Wednesday at the Waterfront Hotel in Lahug, Cebu City, Lapus said his goal is to make communication technology a part of the country＊s basic education program. ※The quality of, and access to, basic education remains our overriding goal,§ Lapus said. ※All our efforts are geared toward providing students with skills in the use of appropriate technologies.§ Lapus said that computer use in schools is very low. He noted that in public-elementary schools, computer-to-student ratio is 1:25,000, and computer-to-teacher ratio is 1:728. In public-high schools, computer-to-student ratio is 1:111 and computer to teacher ratio is 1:3. He said only 69 percent of public-high schools in the country have access to a computer. The goal is to provide at least one computer to 75 percent of the schools by the end of next year. Over a five-year period, the goal is to equip all 4,729 public-high schools with multimedia libraries and at least 20 percent of all public-elementary schools with computer laboratories. The bulk of the money to fund ICT in education will come from DepEd＊s budget.
However, the department is planning to tap local governments, government corporations, the private sector, parent-teacher associations and foreign-development assistance. To integrate ICT in basic education, the department must take into account several issues that affect its implementation, including the obsolescence and maintenance of current ICT resources, Lapus added. Lapus said his department is coordinating with government agencies and non-government organizations to mobilize resources and encourage local government investment through the Special Education Fund. He hopes to spur early creation of an ICT Basic Education Fund for facilities improvement, curriculum development, research and development, monitoring and evaluation and training. ※In the end, this boils down to how much resources we can allocate,§ he said. ※Through our combined efforts, we will be able to provide our children with the quality education they need to become truly productive and competitive.§
Education Secretary Jesli Lapus wants to set up at least 300 library hubs nationwide by 2010 in line with the Department of Education＊s goal to make every Filipino child a reader by the third grade. Since the department is unable to provide and upgrade all libraries in almost 43,000 schools in the country, a warehouse-type hub was conceptualized, Lapus said. Library hubs serve as wholesale libraries, which exclusively services elementary and secondary schools. The hub provides access to a multitude of storybooks, anywhere from 25,000 to 400,000 books, bundled by subject area, grade or year level for easy access. These bundles can be lent to schools for 25 calendar-day periods, after which the schools must return the bundles for them to be eligible to borrow another bundle. Under the project, thousands of story books and supplementary reading materials will be made available to schools through these hubs, and teacher librarians who will take charge of the hubs will be trained. To date, a total of 21,000 public-school teacher librarians and school administrators have been trained since its launch in 2003. Lapus reported that the department has completed and launched library hubs in the divisions of Batanes, Davao, Naga, Bacolod, Sagay, Pasig and Gapan. Sixteen more hubs are under construction and renovation.
From http://www.manilatimes.net/ 10/15/2006
A GROUP of information and communications technology (ICT) auditors wants to embark in an advocacy to increase awareness in ICT governance in the local public sector, its Manila chapter president told INQ7.net. Gina Santos, president of ISACA Manila chapter, said that while the value of ICT within organizations is already evident, awareness on IT governance remains low in both private and public sectors. "IT governance requires a lot of resources, so adoption is not too high," Santos said, adding that ICT governance involves delivering the value of ICT to stakeholders within organizations. ISACA is a global organization now pushing the idea of IT governance in both the private and public sectors. The organization has been in existence for the past 12 years in the Philippines. Members come from a variety of ICT professionals, including chief information officers, information system auditors, consultants, educators, and internal auditors. In most cases, multi-national companies, banks and financial institutions lead the adoption of such a complex system of processes, management practices, and ICT services. The ISACA Manila chapter has been holding regular executive briefings to convince top level executives in private and government organizations to consider the idea IT governance. Through these briefings, Santos said, the group shares information and best practices, including a roadmap that will allow local organizations determine the level of adoption of IT governance. The group has worked with the Commission on Information and Communications Technology and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on improving the procurement processes in government. "IT governance is a fairly new concept. But what it says is that ICT is an enabler, a strategic resource," added Santos. Santos said that her company Aboitiz Transport System Corp. is embarking on a major IT governance project this year.
Government agencies can expect greater online security when the new Cyber-WatchCentre or CWC is ready next March to provide real-time responses to cyber-threats. Set up by the Infocomm Development Authority, the centre will monitor the security of the government's Infocomm systems and networks round the clock and provide early warning of impending cyber-threats. CWC will be staffed by a team of 12 Infocomm Security professionals comprising security analysts and engineers run by e-Cop Pte Ltd. Using state-of-the-art technology like security events correlation technology, it will be able to detect sophisticated attacks and filter our false alarms. Currently, over 1,600 government services are online to businesses and individuals. CWC is one of the key initiatives under the Infocomm Security Masterplan to enhance Singapore's defence against cyber attacks.
From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/05/2006
A new portal that focuses on families, for increasingly IT-savvy parents, has been launched. www.family.sg is a one-stop destination for parenting information that will carry news of family-related matters, offer an online channel for parents to air their opinions, and let public agencies keep their fingers on the pulse of what is happening. It is a joint project between the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports and MediaCorp Publishing's "Family", "Mother & Baby" and "Kids Company" magazines. Launching it on Friday, Minister of State for Community, Youth and Sports Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon said recent surveys showed clearly more than half of Singaporeans aged above 15 used the Internet, and that inevitably, digital technology had to be used to know instantly what is happening and to stay ahead.
From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/08/2006
IE Singapore has launched an online business matching and trading portal to showcase the products of 100,000 local small and medium enterprises. Called BuySingapore, it is intended to help pair SMEs with overseas buyers and suppliers. An estimated S$10 million will be invested in the initiative, by IE Singapore and local IT provider Abecha, over the next five years. According to a 2006 SME Development Survey by the DP Information Group, local companies ranked expansion into new overseas markets as their most important business strategy for the next one to two years, after raising productivity. But for smaller firms, this is easier said than done. Challenges faced include a lack of manpower, overseas knowledge, and overseas business contacts. This is where the e-portal, with its matchmaking facilities, comes in.
Thian Tai Chew, Director - Enterprise Group, IE Singapore, said: "We will actively acquire foreign leads through our presence in over 35 locations worldwide. We will engage overseas marketing agents and partner our overseas trade counterparts to ensure that BuySingapore will provide plenty of opportunities for Singapore-based enterprises to connect with international markets. Our target is to disseminate at least 30,000 foreign leads through BuySingapore annually." Local companies can create company profiles, trade leads and product catalogues online. The portal then matches them to interested overseas buyers and suppliers, allowing local and foreign businesses to make those first connections with each other. Mr Thian said: "Behind the portal front, there is an active foreign marketing and leads acquisition plan championed by IE. As a start, IE will be promoting BuySingapore actively in key overseas trade shows and missions.
I was told there are about 200 overseas trade shows and missions planned a year, either to be led by IE or trade associations, and we will tap on each of these events in overseas markets to promote BuySingapore and acquire business leads." IE Singapore hopes to acquire up to 20,000 local subscribers within the next two to three years. Some of the key industries they will be promoting will be lifestyle, food, electronics, construction and services. Key overseas markets IE Singapore is targeting, include ASEAN, Japan, Europe and the United States.
From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 11/13/2006
It may seem a bit "Big Brother", but a youth portal that has counsellors keeping a watchful eye on online activities is proving a hit among teenagers. Since it was started two years ago, the portal eGen (www.egen.org.sg) - short for "electronic generation" - has grown from 1,500 users last year to 3,450 now. Set up by a youth centre under Fei Yue Community Services, the portal offers users, aged between 13 and 25 years old, an online platform where they can talk, vent and rant. Said 15-year-old Joanna Soon: "When you get into the family of eGen, you get to know the regular bloggers, and although you don't know them personally, they help you with your problems, not like those on other chat boards, who can be perverts." She first started using eGen last year after hearing about it in a school assembly session. Initially she joined in on general topics, such as what she did during the holidays and to ask for shopping tips. Once the trust is established, she moved on to bigger problems, like boy-girl relationships - a topic she is reluctant to share with her parents or teachers. "Parents might not really understand you, even though they have gone through all of that," she said, adding that a teacher once told her mother about her problems with a boy after she had confided in her. "I didn't trust her after that."
Within eGen - one of SingTel's Touching Lives Fund beneficiaries this year - she finds a protective environment where moderators can step in if there is abuse. "You get solutions and you can choose from there what you think will help. On the other blogging sites, a lot of people can spam you. But it's more controlled and safer on eGen," she said. According to Ms Joyz Tan, social worker and publicity coordinator with eGen, the portal runs about 15 counselling sessions a week on average. "Online counselling is an alternative resource to face-to-face counselling for Internet-savvy youth and young adults who may be embarrassed to seek counselling face-to-face," she said. To donate to SingTel Touching Lives Fund, send a crossed cheque to SingTel, Corporate Communities Division, Comcentre #28-00, 31 Exeter Road, S(239732). SingTel will also hold a charity carnival on Dec 2 to raise funds.
From http://www.channelnewsasia.com 11/20/2006
New centres with access to government internet services, as well as an SMS feedback channel on what other services you might want on your mobile phone, are now available. Not everybody has access to broadband internet and that percentage as of June 2006 stands at just under six in 10 people. So to make government services more accessible using the internet, 22 new CitizensConnect Centres have been set up in community centres and clubs. This is an initiative by the Infocomm Development Authority and the Finance Ministry. Each centre has two computers and an officer to help you pay your government bills and renew or apply for HDB season parking tickets, among other services. "The groups that we need to reach out to are very diverse. CPF is a good example. They have millions of users and millions of transactions each month and it is important we are able to reach out to meet their different needs," says Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean. Aside from the CitizensConnect Centres, the government is making more of its services available through mobile phones in the hope of reaching out to more Singaporeans, such as viewing CPF account balances and investments, and even the latest traffic conditions. Meantime, you can take part in deciding what services can be provided through a SMS feedback service. "This is the beginning of something (new) and that's why the public will be able to put forth more ideas to the government through this 'One SMS'," says Lo Yoong Khong, deputy director of E-Government Policies & Programmes at IDA. To take part, key mgov , followed by your service suggestion and send it to 74688. The line is open till the end of the year. Autor(en)/Author(s): Wong Mun Wai
From Channel News Asia 11/15/2006
The ICT Ministry and the Software Industry Promotion Association (Sipa) have launched a "One Stop Services" payment gateway, after piloting the technology in Phuket for one year, at http://www.thaionestop.org. The SOA (Services Oriented Architecture) based portal provides partners with a secure, low-cost and effective means to offer online or one-stop services. The Provincial Electricity Authority, the Provincial Water Authority, CAT Telecom, Krungsri Bank, the Governor of Pathum Thani and the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission were at the launch event and a total of 14 partners have signed up to offer services. More than just a payment gateway, the services oriented architecture (SOA) approach means that customers can interactively see their account status and balance. The Sipa press release called the one stop services portal "a gateway to e-Government" and noted that people living in rural areas often lacked access to easy payment for their utilities, healthcare, immigration, education and employment services. Sipa said the one stop service SOA bus was an easy way to go online for both government and private sector companies. The agreement with the Public Sector Development Commission was so that they could build on this platform and move towards full e-government.
The Provincial Electricity Authority said that they had first considered online billing six years ago, but the cost then was around 20 million baht for the software and only a small handful of people could access it. Now, with the one stop service platform, they have been able to do it at a fraction of the cost and at a time when many more people are online. Initially they have set a target of one million households, out of their 14 million customers, to use the service. Meanwhile, Pathum Thani province, which is effectively the northeastern part of greater Bangkok, has tied the service into the Pathum Thani Counter Service programme. With kiosks located at the Zeer Rangsit department store, anyone can now carry out around 40 different transactions at the centre. However, red tape still made for some interesting quirks. For instance, it is possible to use the service to register for a name change, but not to get married - marriage law requires that the marriage registration officer be present in person. Sipa president Dr Arvuth Ploysongsaeng said that the Thai software industry was growing at a rate of between 20 and 30 percent a year and that projects like this would help feed that growth and lead to more people wanting a career in computer science and software engineering.
He said that Sipa had set a long term goal of getting as many Thai software companies certified to the CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) level 5 as possible. One example he gave was that today Thailand had job vacancies for over 100,000 programmers in the field of embedded software, but the total output from Thai universities was around 20,000 a year. Sipa board chairperson Kruewal Somana also thanked the partners present at the launch for trusting Sipa with their online payment services. She said that soon most people would be paying their bills and transactions online and thus saving time, fuel and uplifting the quality of life. Kruewal said that the same concept of SOA was also being applied to certain clusters, such as the tourism C-Commerce (collaborative commerce) project. She told the audience to just think of the possibilities of what could be achieved if a SOA services bus could be applied to the agricultural sector.
From Bangkok Post 10/25/2006
Trade in products and services electronically, otherwise known as e-commerce, is predicted to see a modest growth of 5 per cent in the next five years, and reach a revenue of VND500 billion (US$31 million) by 2010, said the managing general partner of IDG Ventures Viet Nam, Nguyen Bao Hoang. However, the lack of electronic payment services such as credit cards and debit cards would continue to hinder the growth of e-commerce in Viet Nam, Hoang indicated. According to AC Nielsen surveys, around 10 per cent of the world＊s population, equivalent to over 600 million people, take part in trading electronically. Viet Nam is seen an emerging economy in the technology sector with rapid internet penetration of 15 per cent annually and a present 13 million internet users. However, while three-quarters of internet users in Viet Nam access the internet to research information, play games, chat, and e-mail, only about 7 per cent actually conduct business transactions online. Many local enterprises have expanded into e-commerce to offer customers quick, easy and efficient service, but online shopping has yet to take off, Hoang noted.
Viet Nam＊s e-commerce is still in the infancy, he said, due to the shortcomings in electronic payment services offered by the domestic banking system, directly prventing the development of online trading, Hoang said. Only one per cent of the population has the ability to pay for goods online using credit cards, one of the most popular payment methods worldwide for shopping online. The banking system needs comprehensive reforms concurrent with higher use of credit cards to reflect higher incomes and higher computer literacy of the domestic population. Taxes and regulatory frameworks also need to be adjusted to accelerate the growth of e-commerce, Hoang stressed. IDG Ventures Viet Nam, the first American technology venture capital fund in Viet Nam, which is part of International Data Group (IDG), has committed to pouring $100 million into at fund and continue raising funds over the next 10 years to promote domestic growth in technology, media and telecommunucations, Hoang said. IDG Ventures has invested in eight companies relating to online markets including Peace Soft Solutions, iSphere Software, Navigos/Viet Nam Works.com, VinaGame and Mobile Solution Services.
From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn 10/25/2006
Some key government agencies in Bangladesh have denied cooperating with government in updating their respective websites on a regular basis and its entry into the era of e-Governance. The government organs include Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), National Board of Revenue (NBR), Economic Relations Division (ERD), Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD), Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) and the Forest Department, which are neither maintaining nor updating their websites regularly. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO), that earlier had directed the ministries and their organs to launch websites and update those on a regular basis with latest data, has once again asked them to comply with the directive. It issued the latest directive in this connection on July 19, saying that many ministries and their organs were not offering the latest information and data, which has been preventing the government from reaping the benefit of e-Governance. The PMO office also directed all to update their websites within 15 days. Though more than one month has already elapsed by after the latest directive, the key organs under some ministries have been found providing backdated information and data.
Microsoft Bangladesh Country Manager Feroz Mahmud said that Information technology (IT) was the best means of power to eliminate poverty, while speaking as the chief guest at a function on 'Partners in Learning' programme jointly organised by Northern University Bangladesh (NUB) and Microsoft Bangladesh Limited on the NUB Rajshahi campus. Mahmud in his speech urged the teachers and students to be equipped with modern technology so that they could face the global challenges. Information and communication technology (ICT) education is urgently needed to promote all sectors of the country, he said. About 10 thousand teachers will be given training under this collaborate training programme 'Partners in Learning', which is reorganised and permitted by the Ministry of Education. More than 1400 teachers have already been trained on its Dhaka campus.
Even a poor and developing country like Bangladesh can start making good use of the computers to achieve efficacy and transparency in its governmental functions. There are many areas in Bangladesh where the use of the computer can revolutionise the government administration. How computerisation can speed up administration is evident from only the working of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA). Even in the eighties, the BRTA did its work manually. Mountains of paper at each BRTA office was the unchanging scene. This situation understandably bred delays and corruption for such a thing as even the simple act of registration of a car after its purchase. Things began to change after BRTA offices were computerised in the 1990s. Now registration and other documents can be obtained fast within one working day and also hassle free from a BRTA office by those who are familiar with its current system of working and who do not fall prey to touts at these offices. Anyway one looks at it computerisation marked an advance for the better in BRTA offices.
The same kind of efficiency, speed of working, transparency and reduction of corruption can be achieved by introducing computers in all spheres of the government administration. The customs department is considered as a very corrupt one in Bangladesh. But use of the computer -- which has much reduced the need for human application -- is reportedly already succeeding in bringing corruption down in this key department. With its greater computerisation, perhaps the corruption in this department can be reduced substantially.
The Bangladesh government plans to introduce Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and Photo Matching System (PMS) to identify criminals, local newspaper The Independent reported Friday. State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfuzzaman Babar disclosed it at the opening ceremony of AFIS and PMS for the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) here Thursday. Babar said, "We will start the AFIS and PMS to all districts gradually to further improve law and order across the country which is the objective of the government," According to expert the database server of the AFIS and PMS would preserve a total of 600,000 data of criminals. The AFIS and PMS to be introduced is under the program of SICT (Support to ICT) to ensure e-governance at different government departments, ministries and divisions.
Orissa state is the winner of the 5 India-Tech Excellence Award for being one of the most progressive state government. Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab and West Bengal were short listed from all the case studies received across the the country and on 16 September 2006, these selected states were invited for the final presentation. An eminent jury chaired by Justice Shri A.M.Ahmadi, Former Chief Justice of India, members Shri V. Ranganathan, Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra, Dr. M.R.Srinivasan, Former Member Energy Planning Commission, Shri Shymal Ghosh, Former Chairman Telecom Commission and other eminent personalities were in the panel of judges. The Award was judged on the criticality of IT usage, improvement in service, impact on quality and productivity, impact on society and innovation in terms of reach and replicability, tangible impact on efficiency, operational costs & decision making and demonstrating functionality of providing various information relating to e-governance.
Orissa presented Project e-Shishu as a case study to demonstrate the use of ICT and involvement of the state and district administration in delivering governance. It was an examplenary initiative in capacity building of more than 45,000 departmental officers and staff not only to successfully deploying the project and keeping the continuity of the initiative but having a buy-in by them. The e-Shishu project has been conceived to track each & every child in the age group of 0 -14 years which can ensure his/her fundamental right to education. It provides a technology framework in egovernance where by, it will be possible to prioritize in resource allocation; track child progress & achievement; and make the teacher＆s accountable while empowering the community to ensure all the above. The project started in September 2005 with a vision to have a database of all children by name with 26 parameters and is still continuing. The Award is a morale boost for the state & its officers who have made this innovative project a success.
Microsoft Corporation India Pvt Ltd and Hughes India have partnered on rolling out 5,000 broadband-enabled ICT rural kiosks across the country. The ICT kiosks will be deployed across 200 small towns and rural regions. These will be operated on a franchisee-based model. These will offer budding entrepreneurs across the rural landscape to use technology for e-Commerce, education and e-Governance. The ICT kiosks will not only provide a platform for exchange of information and knowledge, but also will serve as a platform to create over 15,000 jobs and self- employment opportunities as stated by Pranav Roach, president and CEO, Hughes Network Systems India. Hughes will provide a comprehensive business model to enable successful kiosk penetration in rural India offering B2B and B2C services. Microsoft under its 'Saksham' initiative will create an engagement model with kiosks service providers and various governments for delivering e-Government and other B2B services.
The state government of Rajasthan (India) is going to become one of the front-runner states in the e-Governance space. The state government has adopted a four-pronged approach to galvanise its ICT machinery that includes promoting electronic governance on a wider scale, making amendments to existing IT infrastructure, elevating educational standards of the local talent pool and development of IT enabled sectors. The Rajasthan government is providing investment benefits, it is also aiming to make the internal processes of its departments efficient and ICT friendly. For that, a state datacentre has been setup in Jaipur to facilitate vertical and horizontal integration of departmental data and services. District level datacen-tres have also been put in place in 32 districts across the state. This year the government increased its IT spending by over 200 percent sanctioning a total of Rs 50 crore for the ICT sector. The e-Governance projects devised by the government pertain to computerisation of all departments to bring in more transparency and efficiency along with making intra as well as inter department communication and data exchange process smooth. One of the major projects is Aarakshi, which provides residents of Rajasthan with the facility to lodge on-line FIR. Another project e-Mitra is an integrated platform for providing government information and other services to rural and urban masses.
Chief Secretary NC Bajpai said that e-governance would be fully operational in all government departments of the State in three years＊ time. Speaking at the inauguration of the three-day workshop on ＆Government process re-engineering＊ at Hotel Clarks on Thursday, Bajpai said that common service centers would be set up in 16,300 villages. These centers, Bajpai said, would help villagers keep track of development work in their villages besides making them aware of the welfare schemes meant for them. Industrial Development Commissioner Atul Kumar Gupta said implementation e-Governance for efficient and transparent functioning of the government departments was being accorded top priority by the State Government. Principal secretary, IT Zohra Chatterjee said this workshop, being organised in association with the National Institute of Smart Governance would be followed by 17 department wise workshops. Twenty head of the departments, principal secretaries and secretaries are also attending the workshop.
The Government of Uttaranchal is setting up 3 special economic zones (SEZs) to attract investments from information technology (IT) companies. The Government of India has approved the project, which will include one SEZ in the private sector. The Government of Uttaranchal will offer various incentives to IT companies that will establish units in the Doon Cyber Tower IT Park. The State Industrial Development Corporation Uttaranchal Ltd (SIDCUL) is developing the Software Technology Parks of India. SIDCUL has come up with various projects to convert the State into an IT destination. The IT policy of the State will grant 100 percent IT benefits for 5 years. It will ensure uninterrupted power supply and offer various benefits, including lower investment costs compared to the metros. The Government has initiated the Aarohi programme to impart computer education in association with Aptech Computers. Other private organisations like IBM and Hewlett- Packard (HP) have also come out with training programmes to educate the local citizens.
The government of India is set to introduce e-filing system for Indian corporates for tax payments. Following this system is mandatory for firms but voluntary for other classes of tax payers. The Central Board of Direct Taxes issued a circular which serves as a guidance note for corporate tax payers which will insure that their interaction with taxman will be reduced considerably. Firms need not attach audit reports along with their tax return, barring those with annual turnover of over Rs.40 Lakh.
According to the Chairman of the National Knowledge Commission in India Mr. Sam Pitroda e-Governance is the key focus area for the Commission and it will recommend setting up web portals on 10 topics and GIS mapping of the country. These 10 recommendations will be presented to the Government in 90 days and include setting up web portals on energy, environment, knowledge network, higher education, university reforms, intellectual property rights (IPR), agriculture, traditional knowledge, health information and issues related to plants, communicable disease and distance learning. E-governance is the key focus area for the Commission so it should therefore create standards for web-based services and deal with organisational issues, he added.
The State Bank of Travancore which recently networked all its 672 branches with Core Banking Solutions, has launched the facility of e-payment of Central Excise and Service Taxes through its internet banking facility. By utilising this convenience, the customers of the bank can now remit taxes from home or office anytime. The transaction will acknowledged with an instant cyber receipt, which can be printed by the payer. SBT is the first bank in Kerala to offer this hi-tech convenience to its customers and that too from all its 553 branches situated in the State.
Oct. 19--KOLKATA, India -- To popularise e-governance in the state, the West Bengal government plans to make the platform more interactive for end-users. It will soon incorporate retail banking and agriculture advisory services through a network of e-governance kiosks right till the gram panchayat level. The state IT and rural development departments are in talks with three banks -- United Bank of India, State Bank of India and ICICI -- to provide retail banking services through the state e-governance network. The proposed basket of services is yet to be finalised. "While the kiosks will be run by independent service providers like self help groups (SHGs), connectivity and infrastructure support will be enabled by the government. The need of the hour is to provide interactive services for the end-user," said Mr Siddharth, state IT secretary. He was talking to newsmen here on Wednesday on the sidelines of an IT seminar organised by CII.Mr Siddharth said the e-governance platform would also provide advisory services to farmers.
"The platform now only provides data. We are talking to several agriculture universities to link up with the e-governance platform. Farmers will then be able to get advice on crop diseases and other issues directly from the universities," he said. The government is also finalising plans to build a state data centre which will serve as a central IT warehouse for all government data. The project has received state cabinet clearance and finer modalities are being worked out. "The state data centre may be located at the Administrative Training Institute (ATI) premises in Salt Lake," Mr Siddharth said. The ATI is the state nodal organisation for design and implementation of e-governance projects. The state is close to appointing an e-governance consultant through a tendering process. The consultant's prime role will be implementing the e-governance network for departments like health, women & child development, panchayat & rural development, employment exchanges, school education, and police services.
Moga, Oct 25: Punjab would be the first state in the country to begin implementation of the Centre's national e-governance plan under the National Common Service Centre (NCSC). Under this programme, which was chalked out by the Union government, Punjab plans to set up 2500 common service centers across the state. Out of these, 2112 centres will be set up in the rural areas while the rest will be in urban and semi-urban areas. The project based on public-private partnership is slated to begin soon. Punjab Infotech will be the nodal agency for initiating the project in the state. Giving details, Punjab Infotech Director N S Kalsi yesterday said here today that on the lines of the IT- Ministry guidelines, private parties or companies will be appointed for operating the common service centres in villages across the state. The private parties will be given the charge of managing of the centres, he added. However, private parties will be roping in village level entrepreneurs (VLE) to facilitate the functioning and dissemination of service in the rural areas, specially in the border districts. The private companies would fund 66 per cent of the project, the government will put in 33 per cent funds and one per cent would come from the VLEs.
NEW DELHI, India, Oct 29 -- A new survey on e governance in India, to be released in early 2007, estimates spending on it to cross Rs 4000 crores this year. This is 30 per cent more than last year's Rs 3014 crore. By 2009 the figure will hit Rs 10,000 crore. Driving the growth will be projects like the Common Services Centres (CSC) of the Department of Information Technology, said Sameer Kochar, CEO of Skoch Consultancy Services, which conducted the survey. The CSCs are an attempt to reach government services into the deep interior of the country."The survey will give direction to the future course of action," said Kochar. "We can avoid expensive mistakes if we map and document the spread of e governance and the benefits or otherwise that it is providing." The survey covers e-governance projects in all the states , gives data on applications being used in each state and in central government departments in terms of transactions handled or hits. This will be clubbed with the e-governance report card that assesses some of these projects on various qualitative parameters like ease of use, reduction in corruption, affordability of service and efficiency of staff.
Kochar pointed that India spends close to Rs 100,000 crore per annum on the social sector. E governance can helping in better targeting these projects and plugging the leakages. Computerisation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) is one such example. Itcould also be applied to Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) that proposes to spend Rs. 3,750 crore every year for the next five years through local bodies of some of the most backward districts in the country. While the state-owned system integrator National Informatics Centre (NIC) is the main implementer of e governance projects, private players like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have carved out nearly 12 per cent market share in government projects too. There are other small players as well."While the findings have been very encouraging so far, it is reiterated that more large projects like NREGA can give desired results provided IT is made an integral part of implementation of every project of national importance," said Kochhar. The Hindustan Times is provided through HT Syndication, New Delhi.
The six e-Governance project of Andhra Pradesh (AP) are leading nominees of Computer Society of India (CIS), Nihilent e-Governance Awards. The AP projects are AP Online, Transport Dept., e-Procurement, e-Sagu, Hyderabad First and Service Delivery through Card. New Delhi is following by 4 and Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka have 3 each. The final award function would be held on 24 November at Science City, Kolkata, during the annual convention of the CSI. According to Ashok Agarwal, Convener of the awards and Director, ACS Technologies, various State Governments have taken good e-Governance initiatives.
Member of Parliament and a member of the Nepalese delegation to the 61st session of the UN General Assembly, Ram Nath Adhikari, in his address to the Second Committee on agenda item 50: Information and communication technologies for development on Thursday, said information and communications technology was among the most significant forces shaping the way we live, learn and develop our societies. Welcoming the on-going engagement of UN agencies, funds, and programs, in the implementation of communication for development and inter-agency collaborative mechanisms, Adhikari also said North-South and South-South networking of scientific and technological research and development and Non-aligned news network were welcome initiatives. He stressed the need for full and effective implementation of the commitments made at the World Summit on the Information Society to build a global information society that is people-centered, inclusive and equitable. He further said that information and communication technologies were the fundamental tools to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He urged the international community to support the poor and marginalized countries to build capabilities on ICT saying that building technological capabilities in the information and communication technology was critical for the success of domestic enterprises.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Monday said owing to the deregulation and privatisation policies and opening up of telecommunication sector coupled with various investment-friendly incentives Pakistan is geared to become the regional hub of IT and Telecom business. He said the competitive and comparative advantage due to the availability of highly skilled human capital, world-class infrastructure and reduced cost of doing business has stimulated phenomenal growth, attracting investments into the country. He was talking to a delegation of Ericsson headed by Ragnar Back, Chairman Ericsson Operations in Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa who called on him here at the Prime Minister House today. The PM said Telecommunication today is the fastest growing sector of the country with 27 percent tele-density. The country has 37 million cellular phone subscribers and the number is growing fast. He said the use of cellular phones among low-income subscribers is growing and in rural areas the government is providing the facility of phones through the system of wireless local loop. He said Pakistan has come a long way in developing the IT industry and the total size of IT business in Pakistan has reached about 2 billion dollar with 50 percent growth per annum during the last three years.
Keeping in view the "Success story" of Sialkot, the government should announce the setting up of "Allama Iqbal cyber city" in Sialkot, the birthplace of great philosopher and poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal, in the acknowledgement of the services and contributions of this export-oriented city. World trotters have introduced Sialkot as total export-oriented city of Pakistan. Since this place possesses century old industrial heritage, it has developed a remarkable export culture over the period and contributing US 900 million dollars to the national exchequer annually. Still the exporters' community was trying its utmost for doubling the export volume despite of tough competition in the world market for fetching valuable foreign exchange for the country. Undoubtedly, the small and medium enterprise (SMEs) were playing a significant role not only in strengthening the national exchequer but also providing employment to thousands of workers in Sialkot, which is the only export-oriented city in Pakistan, where 99 percent items produced are exported to all parts of the world. The development of cottage industries in Sialkot has assumed a model status for the developing world. The city is sprinkled with thousands of SMEs, which are engaged in honouring their global commitments for export of valve-added quality goods such as sports goods, surgical instruments, leather goods, gloves, badges and musical instruments etc. The city has developed industrial edge over other cities of the country especially in sports goods and surgical instruments.
Over 0.12 million workers only are engaged with both the industries and are earning their livelihood in a respectable way. Many foreign researchers were conducting research on unique export culture of the city. The business community of Sialkot is playing a tremendous role not only in bringing boom in exports but also fulfilling the social responsibilities and the uplift of the city on voluntarily basis. Over 85 percent of total production of soccer ball of the world comes from Sialkot while all international brands are sourcing their supply of footballs from this export-oriented city. The success story of Sialkot based industries can be attributed to unmatched skill of local workers and their craftsmanship. The soccer ball industry had totally been purged from the menace of child labour and Sialkot has set a role model for others to follow the same for the elimination of child labour. The business community had managed to develop the culture of "Do it yourself " in Sialkot, under which the business community was playing a pivotal role for the development of the city and welfare of the people. For the construction of city roads and drains, Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) initiated Sialkot City Package in collaboration of other trade bodies in the city. Under the programme, exporters are voluntarily contributing 0.25 percent against their export invoices, as a result many city roads and drains have been constructed while the construction work on Paris road is in full swing. The mega project of Sialkot International Airport is being constructed by the local business community on the basis of Build, Operate and Own (BOO) basis costing over Rs 2 billion and work on this project is also in full swing. It is expected that airport would be operational in first quarter of 2007.
Sialkot International Airport is a unique project in private sector and first of its kind not only in the country but also South-East Asia. The second biggest Export Processing Zone (EPZ) had been developed in Sialkot and the SCCI was making strenuous efforts for motivating foreign investors to invest in Sialkot EPZ. Sialkot had 40 percent share of the total ISO-9000 certified companies in the country, which reflects how the local manufacturers were quality conscious.
Further investment of three billion dollars is expected in the country's information technology and telecom sector by 2010 due to the consistent policies and incentives offered to investors. Ministry of Information Technology's Senior Project Manager Salman Malik told PTV on Monday that around 750 reputed IT companies were working in the country due to excellent profit margins and availability of cheap skilled labour. Planning is being finalised to ensure judicious utilisation of rupees three billion research and development fund. Universities would be equipped and provided excellent facilities to ensure production of skilled labour in the country, he said. World's GSM association has already awarded Pakistan as a country providing mobile companies excellent opportunities to grow.
NIIT Technologies has tied up with Singapore's Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) to develop and market e-government procurement solutions. According to chief executive of NIIT, Singapore is regarded as a leader in implementing e-governance technology, so we decided tying-up with the leaders to provide e-government solutions to South Asian countries. As part of the contract, DSTA will be outsourcing the development and maintenance support of their government electronic business portal (GeBIZ) to NIIT, which it will market to the governments of South Asia, Middle East and Central Europe.
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, today announced almost $300000 in funding to help lessen disruptions to ABC Local Radio in Victoria during natural disasters or power failures. The Minister made the announcement in Anakie, Victoria with the Member for Corangamite, Stewart McArthur. Anakie was affected by bushfires in January 2006. The ABC＊s Local Radio service offers its listeners a distinctive mix of news, views, current affairs, talkback, entertainment, sport, music, and rural issues. With an estimated national penetration rate of more than 99 per cent, ABC Local Radio is often the only mobile source of vital weather and emergency service information for Australians living in rural, regional and remote Australia. ※In recognition of the important role played by ABC Local Radio, the Australian Government is committing $297 696 for the ABC to install backup generators at its local radio transmission sites in Apollo Bay, Bright and Myrtleford,§ Senator Coonan said. ※This will lessen disruption to local radio services during natural disasters or power outages.
Mr McArthur welcomed today＊s announcement as a significant step forward in ensuring ABC Local Radio continues to act as a vital conduit for information to local communities during emergencies. ※The three sites across regional Victoria collectively provide ABC Local Radio to over 7700 people,§ Mr McArthur said. ※The backup generators are due to be installed before the end of 2006 and will support all of the ABC＊s existing and future planned services at these three sites.§ Today＊s announcement builds on the Australian Government＊s significant investment in the ABC. In this year＊s Budget the Government announced more than $2.5 billion will be provided to the ABC over the next three years including $822.7 million this financial year. On top of its base funding the ABC will receive an additional $88.2 million which includes $45 million to purchase new capital equipment; $30 million to establish an independent commissioning arm to invest in high quality drama and documentaries; and $13.2 million to increase funding for the ABC＊s Regional and Local programming initiative.
THE federal Government has earmarked up to $600 million for rural broadband projects as part of its Broadband Connect agenda. Also part of the wider, billion-dollar Connect Australia program, the funding would be used to support a number of large scale infrastructure projects and bolster investment by private groups and state and territory governments. The funding was announced by federal Communications Minister Helen Coonan and Nationals leader, Trade Minister Mark Vaile. "Broadband infrastructure is the roads and railways of a modern 21st century economy," Senator Coonan said. Broadband connect guidelines were published along with the announcement, with funding applications being accepted until the end of November. Proposals for Broadband Connect funding could also be eligible for funding under the Mobile Connect program or Clever Networks health and education communications initiative. The new broadband connect funding is part of the second phase of the program. The first phase offered subsidies to internet service providers that connected customers in areas poorly served by broadband services. Expressions of interest for the new second phase were lodged earlier this year, with 69 responses received. " The overwhelming majority of the 69 responses strongly supported the Government's proposed alternative infrastructure-based approach outlined in the EOI," Senator Coonan said. "Several respondents are interested in developing proposals for major national or regional infrastructure projects," she said. "Some also proposed a consortium approach to bring together major transmission capacity projects (such as interstate links and local access solutions) that could be integrated into comprehensive national or regional projects." Optus and rural services group Elders have formed one of the partnerships expected to bid for funding The existing per-customer subsidy to service providers would continue for the remainder of the current financial year.
Minister for Human Services, the Hon. Joe Hockey MP, said Centrelink customers can now receive text messages including appointment reminders on their mobile phones. ※SMS is a great way to send quick, simple reminders to customers. Since the service began around seven weeks ago, more than 13,800 people have already subscribed, a take up rate of 98%,§ Minister Hockey said. ※Centrelink can send text messages to remind customers to attend an appointment, or to provide up to date information or documents. ※Centrelink customers who subscribe to this new service and have an appointment will receive an SMS reminder one business day before they have to attend their local office,§ he said. ※The short text messages provide the perfect opportunity to jog someone's memory.§ ※The service is voluntary and people can withdraw at any time. The messages won't contain personal information and customers are not required to respond to them.§ Customers can subscribe to SMS by calling their relevant payment numbers or visiting Centrelink. Centrelink will also begin an Online Letters service this month, which will let customers view some of their Centrelink and Family Assistance Office letters over the internet. ※People will be able to view and print the letters, and will have access to them for 60 days. Centrelink will send customers an SMS or an email to let them know they have a new online letter,§ Minister Hockey said. Minister Hockey said SMS and Online letters are two new strategies Centrelink has introduced to reduce the number of letters it sends to customers. ※In 2004-05 Centrelink sent almost 90 million letters to customers around Australia . The Government expects Centrelink to do everything it can to reduce the number of letters it sends, with a special focus on SMS and email correspondence.§
The Special Minister of State, The Hon Gary Nairn MP has launched a new $4 million ICT apprenticeship program in the Australian Capital Territory to address current and projected shortfalls in ICT skills identified in the Management Advisory Committee Report, Managing and Sustaining the APS Workforce (2005). Mr Nairn said the Health Industry Group Training Company (HIGTC) has been chosen as the provider, working in conjunction with the Sydney Institute of TAFE and the Canberra Institute of Technology to implement the pilot program. ※The Pilot Program will see between 40 and 60 apprentices offered opportunities in up to 16 Australian Government agencies in the ACT. The apprentices will receive both qualifications to provide the foundations to an APS career, and valuable ＆on-site＊ experience with various APS agencies 每 invaluable experience that complements their studies§, Mr Nairn said. Mr Nairn said apprentices would be sought from a number of high schools, including the Queanbeyan High School and Karabar High School, in his electorate of Eden-Monaro. HIGTC will market the program, as well as recruit, employ and place the apprentices with the APS department or agency and the Sydney Institute of TAFE will award Certificate IV qualifications in Information Technology to successful graduates. The Canberra Institute of Technology in conjunction with the Sydney Institute of TAFE and HIGTC will provide the accredited training and ongoing support to the apprentices and their host agency supervisors, with placement to commence in February 2007. ※We＊ll be watching to see what lessons can be learnt from this Pilot. If there＊s momentum for expansion of the APS ICT apprenticeship program in the future 每 there＊ll be scope to look at that§, Mr Nairn said.
A $116 million Defence Department communications project is entering its fourth year in limbo as the organisation seeks off-the-shelf technology to complete the system. The project was put on hold in late 2003 while the department reviewed commercially available messaging and identity management systems. The department, which had originally hoped to complete a revised strategy by mid-last year, doesn't expect the e-Defence project to get back on track until May at the earliest. E-Defence is intended to replace the department's ageing Defence Integrated Secure Communication Network (Discon) with new email, secure gateway and public key infrastructure technology. Discon is used by the army, navy and air force. The e-Defence system will operate across the three branches of the military, covering surveillance, reconnaissance, intelligence, information and electronic warfare, communication, as well as command and headquarters systems. Last financial year, the department spent just $1 million on the project as it continued its search for suitable off-the-shelf technology. It has spent $54 million of e-Defence's $116 million budget so far, $49 million of that before June 30, 2003. According to the department's 2006 annual report, all major procurement activity was paused pending a reassessment of requirements and revision of the acquisition strategy, both of which were expected to be completed by May.
Delays in their completion arose because the requirements development phase took longer than planned and because of industry's evolving ability to deliver a commercial-off-the-shelf system, it says. Responsibility for e-Defence was transferred to the Office of the Chief Information Officer during the 2006 financial year. The project was first put on hold before Defence's chief information officer Air Vice-Marshal John Monaghan took on the role in December 2004. Air Vice-Marshal Monaghan said the department wanted to use off-the-shelf systems where possible. The department also continued to battle with software problems in its $1.96 billion Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter project, which has been affected by training and software delays. It spent $262 million on the project in 2006, well below a revised forecast of $373 million. Continuing problems with the two projects came as the department sharply cut spending on commercially acquired and in-house software during the 2006 financial year. Total spending on commercially acquired systems fell from $96.2 million a year ago to $72.5 million at June 30, and total spending on in-house software development fell from $174.7 million to $159.4 million.
THE federal Government will hear proposals for a new national community disaster warning system later this week as Australia heads into its peak season for emergencies. The Government's emergency services body said Victorian emergency services commissioner Bruce Esplin was expected to present the system to Attorney General Phillip Ruddock on Friday. Victoria recently completed its report on trials of the telephone-based community information warning system, completed in May. A spokesman for Emergency Management Australia, Mr Esplin was expected to present the report to Mr Ruddock at the Attorney General's Department's twice yearly Ministerial Council of Police Emergency Services. The system will send recorded and SMS messages to all mobile and fixed-line services in a defined area to warn communities of natural disasters such as bushfires, floods and extreme weather. Mr Esplin said there were problems with Victoria's current community warning measures, which relied on an agreement between the state and the national broadcaster, the ABC. The state needed a secondary information service to reach people outside the broadcaster's peak audience periods, he said. "We really need that other way, and that other way is to be able to ring every telephone in an affected area and tell people to be on their guard," Mr Esplin said. The system had worked well in tests carried out with Telstra earlier this year. The system could call a huge number of fixed and mobile phones in a very short time. He said, however, that the system required national co-operation. "Fires don't respect state borders and if possible we need to put in a national system," he said. Tony Pearse, head of Emergency Management Australia, declined the opportunity to comment on the system ahead of the ministerial meeting.
AFTER three years of delays, a massive database containing personal information on every Australian with a phone number could soon be protected. A Bill before federal Parliament includes fines up to $66,000 or two years imprisonment for anyone misusing personal information in the Telstra-managed phone directory. It is three years since the Australian Communications and Media Authority raised concerns about misuse of data in the Integrated Public Number Database, a complete and always up-to-date electronic directory of all listed and unlisted phone numbers and contact details. It is used by emergency services, telcos and producers of public number databases, but only emergency services are authorised to access silent lines. Some marketing and directory companies use the information to wash their data and to reverse-search for names and numbers. An industry standard to restrict business use of the database was due to be in force by the second half of 2004, but it has been delayed several times. Now the Howard Government has introduced legislation to do the job instead. Criminal offences will be introduced for disclosing or misusing data under the Telecommunications Amendment Bill 2006, quietly introduced to Parliament in October. The Bill would "address a problem on increasing misuse of IPND data" Communications Minister Helen Coonan said. It will, however, allow researchers greater access to some information. The Bill clarifies access arrangements for the IPND by preventing access to the database for commercial telemarketing databases or for compiling personal profiles without consent. It shifts responsibility from Telstra to ACMA for decisions on access to IPND information.
Telstra will only be allowed to disclose IPND information to people authorised by the authority. As is the case now, only emergency services organisations will be given access to silent-number information, and researchers will not have access to such information. If passed in its current form, the legislation would extend access to IPND information for some public-interest social research in areas such as health and education. ACMA will have to establish a scheme for authorising access to the database. "These measures will make it very difficult to access IPND data for unauthorised purposes - something that has occurred in the past." The database, which contains details of about eight million fixed-line phone customers alone, helps fire and ambulance services respond to emergencies and helps police investigate serious crime. At present, it also helps direct marketers and companies that want to ensure they have correct information on their databases. Companies licensed as directory providers have used the database to clean data for third parties, provide them with previously unknown phone numbers and addresses, and upgrade demographic profile data. In 2003, the then Australian Communications Authority raised concerns about such practices when it announced it was investigating a company for misuse, saying self-regulation was not working. The authority announced it would develop an industry standard to prevent misuse.
Parliament has a new website from today. The parliamentary web address will also change to www.parliament.nz with staff promising easier access and more comprehensive information about Parliament and its business. Email addresses for parliamentary staff remain unchanged.
As the Government encourages collaboration using ICT between central and local government agencies 〞 as part of its 2010 e-government plan 〞 a grassroots effort is generating similar collaboration, but from the bottom up. Accordingly, a five-hour free workshop for ※those involved in planning, setting up or running community and government online groups§ is planned for November 23, to be held in Wellington. The workshop aims to enable participants to find out more about what others are doing regarding setting up online groups to foster collaboration between community and government groups. One of the key groups behind the workshop is The National Shared Workspace Group, which describes itself as ※a small group of government and community experts initially brought together by the Public Health World Wide Web Networking Project (PHWN). ※The purpose of the group is to encourage increased cooperation in the development of online group activity for and in the community and government sectors,§ says the group. The workshop is aimed at those planning and managing such online groups at the strategic level, rather than individual users. It will run from 11am to 4pm at the Betty Campbell Centre, Harbour City Towers, Level 2, 40 Panama Street, Wellington.
Communications Minister David Cunliffe has announced a government decision to reallocate spectrum for wireless broadband. According to Cunliffe the decision is "another essential step in providing New Zealanders with better, more competitive access to broadband". The decision will see spectrum in the 2.3 GHz range - suitable for such emerging wireless broadband applications as WiMAX - put up for auction in early 2007. While current right-holders do not have to give up their rights before they expire in 2010, some may choose to do so. It is expected that some of the 2.3 GHz spectrum could be available for development immediately after the auction, enabling early development of new broadband wireless services. Other decisions include making a 16MHz block as a "managed park" suitable for local and regional broadband operations, and developing policies to facilitate future use of other spectrum suitable for broadband wireless access (BWA). "This decision reflects the fairest and most effective way of giving new and existing wireless broadband services providers the opportunity to develop this very important spectrum for broadband in New Zealand," Cunliffe said.
China's online advertising market is expected to hit 4.387 billion yuan (US$548 million) in 2006, according to Analysys, an information source on the hi-tech and Internet industries. Analysys said the value of China's on-line advertising reached 2 billion yuan in the first six-months of this year. It said the portals, sina.com, sohu.com, and China's biggest search engine baidu.com, took the lead in online advertising in the country, without providing details on the revenues they may have earned.
Those in Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games will be able to watch the sporting spectacular free of charge on electronic devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras and MP4 players. Beijing Radio yesterday officially launched a free Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) service, which broadcasts smooth high-definition digital audio and video programs to mobile equipment. "Twelve Beijing Radio channels, as well as TV programs from CCTV-News and BTV 1 are available through the DAB service from today, while China National Radio and China International Radio will join us later," said Wang Liang, head of Beijing Radio, at yesterday's launch ceremony, "Besides, TV programs designed especially for mobile terminals with small screens are also under development. "From the beginning of 2007, DAB services will begin to transmit information about government affairs, daily life, the city and real-time traffic and weather conditions," Wang added. According to a DAB news briefing, municipal services will also be provided such as a hospital treatment register, a long-standing major concern for Beijing residents.
During the 2008 Games, foreigners visiting Beijing will be able to rent receiving devices, easing their access to the events. In addition to helping visitors find destinations such as hotels and hospitals, the DAB system will also be used for audience management and emergency incidents at the 2008 Games, according to an unnamed source with Beijing municipal government. The government estimated that there the city will see over 1 million DAB system terminals spring up by the opening ceremony of the 2008 Games. The receiving terminals must be equipped with digital video broadcasting chips to gain access to DAB services. Cellular phones capable of taking the services will be available by year-end at a price of about 5,000 yuan (US$625), according to sources from Lenovo, Beijing's first designated manufacturer of DAB cellular phones. Rural residents in Beijing are for the moment unable to receive this service, since only the area inside the Sixth Ring Road is covered at present.
Thousands of viewers in China's biggest city Shanghai are expected to tune into Internet TV in the next three months. Shanghai Media Group (SMG) and its partner Shanghai Telecom Co Ltd are planning to increase the number of Internet TV viewers in the city to between 80,000 and 100,000 by the end of the year. With a promotion launched this month Shanghai will become the world's first city with a full sized IPTV service using MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding, a technology that provides superior quality to standard video compression. The number of users is expected to reach 300,000 by the end of 2007, said company sources yesterday. IPTV, or Internet Protocol Television, is a combination of Internet and traditional TV, where content is piped to TV sets through a broadband Internet connection. It not only provides more channels than traditional terrestrial television, but offers more flexible programming and other online material. Guan Xiaohong, a senior communications official with BesTV, SMG's IPTV subsidiary, told China Daily yesterday that SMG had signed an outline agreement with Shanghai Telecom Co Ltd to develop Shanghai's IPTV service. According to the agreement, Shanghai Telecom Co Ltd, the largest local carrier, will upgrade the broadband access network while SMG will provide content and marketing. The two companies are planning to invest around 100 million yuan (US$12.5 million) in TV advertising to promote the service.
Market analysts estimate it will cost the two companies at least 2,000 yuan (US$250) for each new user. So far, no concrete information about the total investment has been disclosed. "Shanghai is expected to become China's largest base for IPTV by the end of the year," said Guan. "Promoting the service in Shanghai will pave the way for further expansion across the country." She said an eight-month trial ahead of the promotion had proved Shanghai citizens recognized the value of IPTV. During the trial 20,000 citizens applied for the new service, giving SMG the confidence for a large-scale promotion in the city. In March, 2005, SMG got China's first license for IPTV integration and operation from The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and began promoting the service in Harbin. Customers can spend between less than 1,200 yuan (US$150) and 1,800 yuan per year (US$225) for access to IPTV, said Li Feng, marketing director with BesTV. SMG now has around 60,000 IPTV users in Harbin. And the company is also speeding up its expansion in other cities in the Yangtze River Delta region and South China. "The promotion in Shanghai will be a milestone for both SMG and IPTV in China," said Qian Shujin, an analyst with Shanghai-based Etech Consulting Co Ltd. "If SMG succeeds in Shanghai, it will not only secure an important market for IPTV but also show whether the business model is efficient enough for IPTV's further expansion in China."
Recently, ICBC formally announced a new product to safeguard the security of E-Banking - E-banking Code Card. Meanwhile, a 6-months special promotion was launched to give free Code Card for all customers to enjoy the convenience and security in using it. From August 10, 2006 till January 31, 2007, customer can get a free E-banking Code Card at ICBC business office with his/her legal identity document and the bank card registered in Internet Banking. Code Card is a kind of dynamic E-banking password. On the Card is a matrix of character strings. When customers make payment through E-banking (Internet Banking or Telephone Banking) for outward transfer, B2C shopping or bill payment, E-banking system will randomly give a group of Code Card coordinates. By locating characters on the card according to the given coordinates, customers can get a series of characters and need to input them in the E-banking system as a password. Only with a correct input of password, can the transaction be done. The coordinate is given randomly; therefore users get different passwords each time. Password is void after transaction. In this way, the Code Card protects E-banking users from crackers' steal of their password and money in the account. ICBC Person-in-charge mentioned that security of ICBC E-banking had already been in a leading position internationally.. In 2003, ICBC became the first bank in China to launch "USB-Shield" - a national patented smart IC-based physical digital certificate under hardware encryption. Code Card launched this time is a new kind of E-banking security tool, for which full consideration is given on security and cost factors.
Compared with USB-Shield customers, customers using Code Card may be restricted by payment limit and functions to a certain extent, yet Code Card cost a lot less, and is very convenient to use with nice security. The ICBC person-in-charge also reminded customers to keep the Code Card in a safe place. Do not lend the card to anybody and prevent others from making a copy or photo of it. This ICBC person also remarked that ICBC will recommend all new customers of ICBC "Banking@Home" to get a USB-Shield or Code Card for maximum protection to their benefits by guarding against internet fraud targeting at online banking such as trojan virus, spoofed emails, bogus websites. In recent years, ICBC E-Banking gained wide recognition from its customers for its strong security and powerful functions. By the end of June this year, ICBC has been the top bank in China with 19.87 million Personal Internet Banking customers and 467,000 Corporate Internet Banking customers. In 2005, trading volume of ICBC E-banking reached RMB 46.8 trillion. In 2002, ICBC was awarded the "Best Corporate/Institutional Internet Bank in China" by Global Finance. From 2003-2005, ICBC won the title of "Best Personal Internet Bank of China" for consecutive 3 years. In 2005, in the "China Internet Industry Survey" conducted among Internet users, ICBC won the "Best Internet Bank" in the list of "China Top 50 Internet Industry Brand". And again in February this year, ICBC Internet Banking won the crown of "Internet Banking Evaluation" launched by Hexun.com.
China successfully built the core network of its next generation Internet, leading the world in developing a larger, faster and safer Internet that is to dominate the future. The network, namely CNGI-CERNET2/6IX, passed the examination of an expert team organized by the Ministry of Education here Saturday. Experts said the network reached world leading level on the whole with major innovations and will give China a bigger say in the field. China launched the building of the China Next Generation Internet in 2003 and completed in 2005 its first next generation Internet, the CNGI-CERNET2. The success of the CNGI's core network freed China from dependence on foreign key Internet technologies and products and ensured national information security, said experts. Proposed in mid-1990s, the next generation Internet is estimated to increase the information transmitting speed by more than 1000 times to 40 gigabytes per second. It also offers more safety, easier management and almost inexhaustible Internet addresses. In the next generation Internet, the Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) was applied instead of the currently used Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4). The two protocols regulate the Internet information traffic in different ways. In developing the CNGI, China built the world's first IPv6-onlynetwork, and for the first time used domestic IPv6 routers, the core Internet components, in its national backbone network.
Experts called it a progress with strategic significance by ending reliance on foreign technologies in Internet construction. With transmitting speeds ranging from 2.5 to 10 gigabytes per second, the CNGI's backbone network connected 25 core nodes distributed in 20 cities across the country. China also achieved innovations in creating a new transitional scheme between the two versions of Internet protocol and an IPv6 source address validation system to ensure network safety. Both of them were granted national patents and became basic references for international Internet organizations to make international standards, according to the Network Research Center of Tsinghua University, the leading institution in the CNGI construction. Recognized as the future direction of the Internet development and a weapon in keeping economic, political and military advantages, the next generation Internet has been a strategic task for major developed countries like Japan and the United States. China has written the development of the next generation Internet into its national economic and social development plan for the 2006-2010 period, and made it a key project in building an information-based country.
Internet users in eight Chinese cities have united to sue a major Internet company for plaguing computers with "rogue software". The alliance, covering Beijing, Jinan, Urumqi, Xining, Dalian, Tianjin, Wuhan and Chengdu, filed suits against the Oak Pacific Interactive for crippling computers with software that cannot be completely uninstalled. The alliance considered "rogue software" to include software that forced advertisement pop-ups, collected personal information or endangered assets when performing normal functions like downloading or playing files. Planning to sue one or two rogue software manufacturers each week, the alliance has brought to court major Internet companies like Zhongsou, Yahoo! China, Alibaba and eBay China since its inauguration on Sept. 4, demanding a symbolic compensation of 94 yuan (US$11.75) for each case. The Shanghai Morning Post reported that local government officials in Shanghai had drafted standards on determining rogue software to provide legal support for the fight. With a market of 1 billion yuan, the rogue software industry is driven by huge commercial interests. Statistics from the Internet Society of China show more than 130 types of rogue software are spread on the country's Internet, while 98.75 percent of 20,000 users polled by the Sina website said they had been attacked by rogue software.
China plans to boost its software exports to US$10 billion by 2010, as part of its bid to evolve from a manufacturing powerhouse to a major player in innovation and services. To reach the goal, China's software exports will have to grow by 25 percent per year, according to a document jointly issued by the Ministry of Commerce, the State Administration of Taxation (SAT) and seven other central authorities. The document, posted on SAT's website, says the government's goal is to foster a group of globally competitive software firms with their own brands and intellectual property rights. Software firms will receive preferential treatment in regard to taxation, borrowing and foreign exchange controls, among other areas. In the face of increasing friction with major trading partners over goods, China has drafted an ambitious plan to increase trade in services from US$160 billion in 2005 to US$400 billion in 2010. The development of the software industry is a key part of the strategy, the document says. According to figures from the Ministry of Commerce, China exported US$3.6 billion worth of software and related services in 2005, a rise of 28 percent year on year.
A web page designing contest exclusive for the elderly has attracted more than 5,000 participants above 50 years old over the past two weeks in Shanghai, the organizer said on Tuesday. The contest is aimed at encouraging more and more senior citizens in Shanghai to learn better about the Internet world, said Ma Haitao, executive vice secretary-general of the Shanghai Internet Services Association, a non-governmental organization. Participants are expected to contribute their works to the organizer before Nov. 25 to receive on-line voting by the netizens, and the results will come out on Nov. 30, Ma said. The finalists will get free training on web page designing and the eldest participant will be awarded an honorary title of "The Most Senior Participant," he said. The contest has won the support of the local government authorities concerned, such as the Shanghai Municipal Informatization Commission, he said. China has about 30 million personal web pages. The elderly people should be given a stage for web-designing as Shanghai has about 2.6 million people above the ago 60 years old out of the city's 17 million population, according to Ma. "The elderly people should not be neglected in this regard," he said. It is expected that more elderly people will sign up for the contest as the deadline sets on the end of this month, he added. "We elderly people should improve ourselves with the Internet to shorten the distance between us and the young people," said 60-year-old participant Wang Zhiqiang.
China will make favorable policies to nourish the growth of digital television industry that has a huge market potential in the next five years, said a senior official in South China's Shenzhen on Thursday. Deputy Director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Zhang Xiaoqiang said at a forum held on the sidelines of the six-day China High-Tech Trade Fair that forceful measures will be taken for the industry. The annual fair kicked off on Thursday in Shenzhen, south China. The development of high definition digital TV has been listed as one of the 13 key information industry projects in China's development plan for the coming 15 years. A number of Chinese cities have launched the digital television on a trial basis over the past five years. China has made a set of national technical standard for high definition digital television monitors.
BEIJING, Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The Beijing City Government's Information Office and EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on the city government's "Digital Beijing" initiatives. Over the next few years, the city of Beijing will collaborate with EMC to build a state-of-the-art information infrastructure that will ultimately house the city's digital assets. Mr. Joseph M. Tucci, Chairman, President and CEO of EMC, and Mr. Zhao Fengtong, Vice Mayor of the City of Beijing, hosted today's signing ceremony. Mr. Zhao Fengtong said, "The Beijing City Government is committed to the development of a comprehensive and advanced information infrastructure. We are pleased that EMC is investing its technology and expertise in support of the city of Beijing's digital initiatives. Through the adoption of innovative information technologies, we expect to improve the city's efficiency and quality of service for our citizens." The alliance between EMC and Beijing will help change the way the city government interacts with its citizens. Specifically, the alliance will include: eGovernment Architecture -- EMC will assist in developing and defining information infrastructure and information security standards for the government, and it will improve the eGovernment's information lifecycle management architecture as necessary. Business Continuity Plan -- EMC will assist in developing a data recovery information infrastructure and setting up a business continuity/backup center and information security lab to ensure business continuity and information availability.
Citizen Center -- EMC will help develop the information infrastructure for the Citizen Experience Center, which will provide powerful online interfaces to enable faster responses and new levels of service. Digital Data Archives -- EMC will explore information management and archiving solutions for Beijing's digital data. In support of these digital initiatives, EMC will work closely with Beijing's IT specialists to build an information infrastructure based on EMC's portfolio of tiered storage systems and information management software to digitize, index, archive, and repurpose the city's information. In addition, EMC will leverage its existing EMC China Solution Center network and remote- networking capabilities to educate the city's IT employees about EMC's information management and storage capabilities. By the summer of 2008, EMC plans to train 200 senior city information technology professionals to provide support for Beijing's new information infrastructure. Mr. Joseph M. Tucci said, "We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with the city of Beijing as they embark on their campaign to modernize the government's information technology. I have been a frequent visitor to Beijing over the past few years, and I always come away impressed with the city's passion for world-class innovation. We see tremendous opportunity for EMC in China and look forward to helping one of its most prominent cities move its digitization efforts forward." Mr. Steve Leonard, EMC President of Asia Pacific and Japan, added, "EMC's growth opportunities are exceptionally strong in APJ. The most strategic way to expand our market leadership is by investing back into the region. We are thrilled to collaborate with the city of Beijing to design a technology solution that will improve its operations, support the highest levels of data protection and disaster recovery, and offer its citizens first-rate service."
One hundred and fifty Guizhou workers were recruited Tuesday by local manufacturers - they need not to step foot outside the city - thanks to Shenzhen's first online interview system. Factories, which used to hold job fairs to recruit workers in inland areas, can now save time and expense through the newly launched platform. Developed by the municipal labor and social security bureau, the system provides free online instant video communication for local companies and workers living in impoverished inland areas, most of which are listed on the city's assistance list. In an interview Tuesday, He Jun, a human resources manager from Shenzhen Kaifa Technology Co. Ltd., recruited 30 assembly line workers from Guizhou. "The system enables us to examine candidates' eyesight and numeracy skills, which are basic requirements for assembly-line staff," he said. Deng Zhizhi, a 16-year-old graduate from a vocational school in Qinnan in Guizhou, finished her first interview with the company in just 10 minutes. Without the need to travel to Shenzhen for the screening, she said the interview was reliable and could help prevent people from falling into traps. Li Zhuo, director of the Shenzhen municipal labor bureau's employment management department, said the online interview platform is now operating in Guiyang, Bijie and Qinnan in Guizhou Province. "We are now planning to set up the system in another 20 needy areas including Heyuan and Meizhou in Guangdong and Chongqing Municipality." He said the system would be installed around the Pearl River Delta region in the future, to broaden local companies' choice in selecting qualified staff. Employers can also hold online examinations for candidates, publish vacancies and browse applicants' resumes. Shenzhen manufacturers wishing to recruit workers from rural areas in Guiyang, Bijie, Qinnan, Chongqing and Wushan can now register with the municipal labor and social security bureau. Publication of vacancies and the online interview service are free. "Interviews will be arranged once local labor bureaus find appropriate candidates," Li
Hanoi, Vietnam, 14 November: Taiwan's APEC Digital Opportunity Centre (ADOC) programme has helped the country win friendship with many member states of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, improving its international profile in the process, Taiwan's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Tzu-pao said here Tuesday [14 November]. Yang, who is here for an APEC ministerial meeting, hailed the programme for its success in gaining international acclaim for Taiwan, saying that it is a relatively inexpensive package that has borne fruitful results. In this year's informal APEC trade ministers' meeting, Vietnamese officials thanked Taiwan for its help in upgrading their country's level of digitization. According to Taiwan's economics officials, the ADOC programme, which requires an annual budget of about 83 million New Taiwan dollars (2.5m US dollars), has helped strengthen bilateral relations between Taiwan and other APEC member countries. It also provides a good chance for Taiwan companies to explore business opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region, they said. Since Taiwan began carrying out the ADOC programme in August 2004, its Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT) has helped train more than 8,000 telecommunications experts in six APEC member states - Vietnam, Chile, the Philippines, Indonesia, Peru and Papua New Guinea. By setting up six ADOC partner offices, nine tele-centres, two e-care centres and two e-schools in the six countries, the BOFT aims to assist them in setting up digital platforms and operations and improving their telecommunications. For instance, Vietnam, which entered the World Trade Organization recently, has embarked on a tax reform package and is opening international bidding to select a company to take charge of the project. Companies from Taiwan, the United States, Singapore and Britain, among others, will bid for the project which will be followed with contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars despite its own price tag of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A new broadband information network, 3TNet, integrating telecom, internet, radio and TV, and capable of offering state-of-the-art video on demand services, has been introduced in many regions in China. After being tested in the Yangtze River Delta, 3TNet is now in operation in many regions, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). The project will enable Chinese netizens to enjoy interactive broadband and rich media services at speeds of 41 Mbps. For most Chinese families that have access to broadband, average speeds are currently less than 10 Mbps, according to MOST. The new interactive network gives users much more control and versatility in terms of the services they receive. Users can order up films and other programs using video on demand (VoD) as well as a range of interactive digital programs and services such as tele-medical and tele-education services, according to an official from MOST. The network also boasts an interactive video telephone facility. The official said China supports the integration of telecom, internet and television networks in order to minimize information technology costs. The 3TNet project was developed as part of the "863" national high-tech research program and was listed by MOST as a key project from 2001 to 2005. More than 30 top Chinese firms, universities and scientific research institutes -- including China Telecom, Shanghai Media Group and the Institute of Acoustics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences -- took part in developing the network. Experts have long heralded the full integration of telecom, internet, radio and TV services. According to the official, 3Tnet is a landmark development which will spur the network market in China. China had 123 million netizens in June this year -- including 77 million netizens, ranking second in the world after the United States.
Digital pay television is fighting to survive in China despite nearly 90 digital pay television channels covering 150 cities of the country, according to digital TV executive. Digital pay-TV had covered all of China except Guangxi, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan since its launch in 2004, but its prospects were still fuzzy, said Song Jun, of China DTV Media (CDM), here on Tuesday. CDM was China's first nationwide pay-TV platform funded by the state-run China Central Television (CCTV). Three other providers have since emerged: Shanghai Media and Entertainment Group, TopV and CCTV Channel 6. "Only one fifth of CDM's 44 digital pay-TV channels are doing well," Song said. "The revenue, however, still cannot offset the investment of millions of U.S. dollars." The fledgling industry was still in its market cultivation stage, he said. Cable TV was still very popular in China. "It is hard to draw TV viewers away from the economical cable networks and have them subscribe the pay service," Sun said. Viewers could receive more than 30 channels on cable TV costing only two U.S. dollars per month, while CDM charged five to 180 yuan (22.5 dollars) per month for each of its digital pay channels. The digital pay service provided specialist programs on sport, fashion, music, documentaries, high-definition movies, TV series and cuisine. "To compete with free channels, the pay channels will have to promote more quality programs," Sun said.
The electric door guard has replaced the traditional "door lady" in a dormitory at Shanghai Songjiang University City, within the range of many universities. In the future, more electric door guards will take the place of "door ladies." The electric door guard operates under an IC card system, with students using IC cards to enter. Each resident student is issued an IC card with his/her personal information stored on it. Information like the card-holding student's name, major, grade, and even time of entry will be stored on their IC card. The door has also been equipped with a "digital eye" to take video 24 hours a day 7 days a week. With the new "door guard" already on duty, students began to discuss the pros and cons of the latest renovation to their dorm in community forums. Some complained that having to take their IC card everywhere is inconvenient, adding that the system is not always reliable. They noted times when the system failed to recognize them and they had to call repair workers to fix it. Others say the former "door lady" was more flexible and gave them a sense of "home." Sometimes when a student had to stay out late, to study or for other business, the door lady would wait for them and let them in if they told her beforehand. Or when students' parents came to visit, the door lady would let them in. But now, all of these conveniences seem impossible. Still, students admit that the electric door guard is much safer, as it prevents thieves as well as unwelcome salesmen from entering their dorm. In this way, the electric door guard has its own advantages. The school's authorities say the new system needs some time to improve and that students need time to get used to it. The school has said it will consider the inconveniences brought along with the new door guard and attempt to solve them by other means. On the whole, the new system seems to be good for students living in the dorm building.
Chinese people can now watch movies online or download them legally from a website after the films have been screened in cinemas for two or three weeks. The website quacor.com for downloading free copyrighted movies was launched in Beijing on Saturday. At the launch ceremony, the website received exclusive Internet screening rights for two movies, "Still Life" and "After This We Exile." The site has already acquired thousands of movies' exclusive Internet screening rights. Meanwhile, is there really such thing as a "free lunch"? How will the website survive with the high cost of acquiring screening rights? The website's publicist told the Stardaily that they will add advertisements to the movies and also on their website. He noted that the advertisements will only appear at the beginning or end of the movies.
A tourism information dissemination website, reportedly the first of its kind in Iran, was inaugurated here on Tuesday. According to ISNA, Saeid Naqibi Pakqol, manager of the bilingual information website, announced that it lists Iranian and foreign travel agencies, hotels and tourist attractions, adding that information on the site will be updated once changes in travel agencies and hotels＊ schedules are reported. ※The website also contains pictures of tourism sites in Iran and the world, a newsletter and a travel guide to Iran and other countries,※ he said, adding that its international section will go online in the near future. Iran＊s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) officials, academic figures and managers of several travel agencies attended the ceremony to launch the key cultural project. According to the World Ecotourism Organization, Iran, a country with high tourism potential and attractions, can have a share of $12 billion in global tourism revenues by 2010.
The Advar News website resumed operations under a new name on October 4. The site, which is connected with the Office for Strengthening Unity student group, was shut down by the Iranian government in late September. The new website is advarnews.us. Meanwhile, Iranian state television's plans to broadcast an all-day English-language news program are progressing, with state broadcasting's deputy head for external services, Mohammad Sarfaraz, saying on October 4 that the service will be launched within months, ISNA reported. Sarfaraz said the 24-hour news channel -- called Press -- will use presenters trained by the BBC and whose skills "surpass" those of BBC or CNN presenters. He said the reason for creating the channel is to present a different perspective on regional news. BS
Iran has launched a new mobile phone network with SIM cards provided by the country's first private operator, the communication and IT ministry has told 均F妓. "Distribution of 300,000 SIM cards by Irancell, the first private operator, has started in the cities of Tehran, Mashhad (northeast) and Tabriz (northwest) under the first phase," ministry official Masoud Fateh said Saturday. Irancell leads a joint venture with South African Mobile Telephones Network (MTN), providing a second mobile network at a lower price of 1,500,000 rials (163 dollars) per SIM card. The first operator, which is state-owned, charges more than twice as much. The project was initially scheduled to be launched in September 2005. The postponement was due to "slow progress by contractors, a delay in operations to supply the required frequency as well as delays in issuing necessary permits" from the ministry, according to the Irancell managing director, Ali Reza Ghalambor Dezfouli.
"Irancell will distribute 2.3 million of these post-paid SIM cards by March 2007 and it will also offer pre-paid SIM cards in the near future," Fateh said, adding that distribution will spread to other big cities gradually. Fateh said the number of mobile phone subscribers in Iran numbers 10.6 million out of a nearly 70-million population. The Irancell joint venture was finalised in February 2004, initially with Turkish telecommunications giant Turkcell which was replaced by MTN in October 2005. The agreement suffered a setback when Iran's conservative-controlled parliament objected to giving a foreign firm a majority stake in the venture. The MTN has deposited a 290-million-euro (366-million-dollar) license fee for the 49-percent stake originally awarded to Turkcell. The deal at the time of conclusion aimed to provide a total number of 16 million users with SIM cards.
According to the latest statistics, Iran will need some 300,000 IT specialists by 2008, ISNA reported Wednesday. The visiting representative of NUST (National University of Science and Technology) Institute of Information Technology (NIIT) Professor Ram said at the opening ceremony of the NIIT center in the holy city of Mashhad that the technology worldwide has undergone some unexpected developments, regretting that while Information Technology (IT) and other relevant technologies are dominant paradigm of global economic development, the industry has not made a remarkable growth in Iran. Listing the young Iranian population, underground resources, inexpensive laboratorial conditions and industrial companies as the factors for the development of IT in the country, he urged relevant officials to seize these opportunities to achieve the said target.
Ram described IT as a fertile ground for the growth of different industries, stressing that officials should concentrate on the achievements of IT in numerous fields, including the production of software and communication services and thus accelerate the development of the IT industry. ※Providing the required facilities, establishing communicative infrastructures and planning approved education systems are among the factors contributing to the IT development,※ he said, stressing that efforts should be made to create an acceptable international system in Iran. NUST Institute of Information Technology (NIIT) was launched on self-finance basis in Islamabad, Pakistan in April 1999 as a constituent college of NUST. The institute has achieved groundbreaking success and received enthusiastic response from the student community. The number of students registered with NIIT so far is above 500. NIIT, since its very inception, has made a mark in the IT industry.
Private sector has a bigger share than the state sector in a newly created consortium to manufacture equipment for six million mobile telephone lines. Expressing this, Deputy Minister of Industries and Mines Mohsen Shaterzadeh told ISNA that the private sector constitutes a major portion of the consortium, adding that since these projects are to the benefit of the public, state funds should be channeled to such schemes to enable their implementation. He cautioned that the telecom industry is on the verge of insolvency as investments so far in the industry have failed to produce the desired results due to excessive imports. Earlier, Mohammad Ebrahim Mottaleh, managing director of Iran Telecoms Factories Company told ISNA that the Micro Moj Co., Telecommunication Industries of Iran are private companies participating in the consortium, adding that last year 35 percent of his company＊s stake was transferred to the Privatization Organization, which intends to cede them to the public under the Justice Shares scheme. Private companies hold a 70-percent stake in the consortium, while the rest is held by state-run companies, including the Iranian Communication Industries and Shiraz Company. This is while Ramezan Ali Sadeqzadeh, a member of the Majlis Mining and Industries Commission had lamented that state-run companies participated in the consortium while no tender was held, arguing that the contract is contrary to the objectives of the Fourth Plan (2005-2010) and Article 44 of the Constitution which allows large-scale privatization.
Getting online may become as easy as plugging in your computer thanks to the latest high-speed power line communication (PLC) technology given the go-ahead by a government panel on Wednesday. PLC technology turns regular power outlets in homes and offices into Internet terminals by enabling electrical power wiring to double as a transmission medium. The new development allows users to access a high-speed Internet connection simply by inserting a PLC modem between the power outlet and the computer's power cord--thus doing away with the clutter involved in connecting televisions and hard disc recorders, as well as the hassle of rewiring. It also means that telephones can be connected in any room, simply by plugging in a power socket. However, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications' Radio Regulatory Council gave its cautious approval dependent on the condition that due consideration is given to the flip side of the technology. For, as simple and effective as it sounds, not everybody is impressed by this new development.
The problem is that PLC generates a lot of noise. The lines act as antennas, which leak noise and could interfere with both shortwave radio transmissions and radio astronomical observations. "This will bring about the downfall of radio astronomy in this country," said Masatoshi Oishi, associate professor at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. "The noise level generated by individual connections may be low, but once generated en masse, it becomes a different story," he explained. "The minute, delicate signals that come in from space will be drowned out by the noise field. We won't be able to detect anything." Radio astronomers are not the only unhappy party. Nikkei Radio Broadcasting Corp., Japan's shortwave radio station, is also under threat. "This is a life-or-death issue for our company," said a spokesman for Nikkei Radio. It's no exaggeration. Homes using PLC are likely to generate a great deal of noise, which will seriously interfere with shortwave radio transmissions. There is a very real danger that broadcasts won't be picked up at all. Considering there are around 9 million shortwave radio sets in use nationwide, this would affect a lot of people. From an industry viewpoint, there is already a lot riding on the development. Telecommunication equipment manufacturers have invested heavily, with some companies geared up with completed PLC modems ready to be installed in television sets once the government gives its official go-ahead.
According to one estimate, 6 million PLC modems will be ready for shipment in four years. Since naming PLC as one of its e-Japan Strategy items in March 2001, the government has spent the last five years developing the technology. Opposition regarding the noise factor led to a focus on developing the technology on a more limited scope, to connect television sets and personal computers within the home and office. The Radio Regulatory Council has ordered that the government implement special measures to prevent obstruction and interference, as well as demanding that the devices be subject to thorough approval procedures. "We carefully considered all opposing opinions," Mitsutoshi Hatori, a professor at Chuo University who chaired the government panel, said. Nonetheless Toshiharu Yasugi, an engineer at NEC Engineering Ltd., remains upbeat. "Once we have the merchandise on the market, then we will be able to hear opinions from our customers," he said. "That would clearly show us what improvements should be made."
Business operators that conduct online transactions failed to declare about 14.3 billion yen in taxable income during the year ending in June, an increase of about 2.8 billion yen from the previous year, according to the findings of an investigation by the National Tax Agency. Twenty percent of the 1,453 business operators investigated by the agency did not declare income at all, indicating that online firms are less willing to pay tax than operators of firms that do not conduct business online--generally, 10 percent of the latter have been found to have dodged tax when they were investigated by the agency. On the Internet, people can engage in virtual adventures or battles against each other in online games. An unemployed man sold many virtual items, including weapons and game tokens he obtained from online games, to players in the real world, but he did not declare the 60 million yen he earned from those sales for three years. The man reportedly said he deposited the money at a bank. Some Web site operators also failed to declare money they received through an affiliate program in which they are paid commissions if people buy items based on advertisements on their sites. A company employee who operates several Web sites received large commissions from companies that advertised on his sites. He earned, but did not declare, about 70 million yen in two years, reportedly saying he spent the money on pleasure. It can be difficult to keep tabs on online transactions because most Web site operators do not reveal their names. As such, the agency established a team in 2000 to investigate electronic transactions, particularly those that are conducted online.
A large volume of anonymous slurs and criticisms have been sent to the Web sites of a group trying to raise money to send 4-year-old Sakura Ueda of Mitaka, Tokyo, to the United States for a heart transplant operation. Friends and colleagues of the Uedas formed "Sakura-chan o Sukuu-kai" (Society to Save Sakura-chan) in August with the intention of raising 136 million yen to pay for transportation, treatment and other expenses. The Web attacks on the group started in September and have been escalating. They include posting by anonymous individuals of items such as photographs of the Uedas' home, information about the group members' assets, as well as mobile phone numbers and photographs of members' homes. The attacks started after the group's activities were publicized in the media at the end of September. Sakura, the eldest daughter of Masahiro Ueda, 53, and Kazuko Ueda, 45, both employees of NHK, has been diagnosed with idiopathic restrictive cardiomyopathy and is awaiting the opportunity to make the trip to the United States for a heart transplant before the end of the year. A blog by some supporters receives several hundred messages daily from supporters, and the group also receives about 100 e-mails a day. These e-mails have included such messages such as "You [the parents] should pay out of your own pockets," and "You're using the child to commit fraud." Online attacks were apparently ignited when it became known that Sakura's father was a producer and her mother was a director at NHK.
A bewildered Kozo Nagata, who works at the group's secretariat office, commented on the disclosure of personal information: "I never thought that we'd face this kind of criticism...This has been a big shock to our members and detrimental to our fund-raising." On Sept. 29, the group said that 30 million yen of the money the fund hopes to raise will be paid by the parents, and that it had taken steps to allow the public to see details of how the money in the fund would be spent. Attacks on similar fund-raising campaigns for sick children who need to go overseas to undergo transplants have been frequent. Ayaka Kandatsu from Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture, who was suffering from a rare intestinal disorder, died in May at the age of 16 months. There were also attacks on her fund-raising group, with slurs sent to the support group's Web site saying things such as, "Donate your surplus funds!" Prof. Masakatsu Morii of Kobe University's Faculty of Engineering, an expert on Internet culture, said: "If people are donating to the fund, there will also be people who offended by it. There are many different ways of thinking in society." "There is little face-to-face criticism of people collecting on the streets, but people can criticism anonymously on the internet. Most of these opinions are irresponsible and are hard to forgive. This shows one of the downsides of the Internet."
The Internet Hotline Center, working in tandem with the National Police Agency, received around 14,400 reports from the public about child pornography and other potentially illegal and harmful content in the first four months after the center's launch June 1, a center official said Saturday. The center, located in Tokyo, determined that a large majority --about 13,000 -- of the reports were outside the scope of its watch guidelines. It defines as "illegal information" content such as pornographic images and advertised sale of controlled substances and as "harmful information" content such as trading of guns, solicitation of murder contracts and encouragement of suicides. The center does not handle information on Internet sites operated by overseas providers. A total of 1,086 of the reports concerned content judged to be illegal by the center. It alerted the National Police Agency in connection with 607 reports of them and requested deletions by Internet service providers or site operators for 438 reports. Six reports prompted the police to start investigations, leading to arrests of suspects in two cases. The center determined 252 reports concerned harmful content and requested deletions of information based on 135 reports of them. The operation of the center has been commissioned by the National Police Agency to the Internet Association Japan. The agency is planning an increase in the number of staff, given the large number of reports the center receives. The center has two full-time and three other dedicated staffers. When the staffers cannot make a judgment on a report, a panel of three lawyers is called to consider what action to take.
Japan's KDDI Corp. (9433.TO) said Thursday that it was launching a new service for mobile phones that can receive broadcasts and music downloads via a digital radio service to go live Dec. 1. Japan's No. 2 mobile phone carrier by subscribers, said at a press conference that the new service, which would be accessible alongside its existing music services, would allow users to download songs, view information about artists and make related purchases.
The Meteorological Agency temporarily posted incorrect information on its Web site about tsunami warnings following an earthquake on Wednesday, it has emerged. The agency issued tsunami warnings in Hokkaido and areas of eastern Japan after an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale struck off the Kuril Islands shortly after 8 p.m. on Wednesday. On its home page, the agency carried an explanatory note about the warnings, along with a map of the Japanese archipelago shaded to show the afflicted areas. But for about 30 minutes early on Thursday, the map mistakenly showed that all tsunami warnings had been lifted, even though the warnings had been lifted in only a few areas. The agency removed the map from its home page at about 1 a.m. on Thursday after the mistake happened, and put back after all the tsunami warnings were actually lifted at around 1:30 p.m. Officials are investigating the cause of the mistake. Waves following the quake only rose to a height of around 60 centimeters.
Russia is seeking to launch wireless Internet for its citizens to modernize its telecommunications network, Korea's minister of information and communication said yesterday. "Showing a keen interest in WiBro, Russia's information technology officials said they want to launch a test operation of the service in some areas," Rho Jun-hyong told reporters in a press briefing after returning from a tour of Russia, Romania, Germany and Hungary. WiBro, or wireless broadband, is a Korean technology that enables users to use high-speed Internet even when they are in motion. The first commercial WiBro service started in June. "Though the exact timeframe for the test operation has yet to be fixed, both sides will accelerate working-level consultations before a meeting to be held in October here in Seoul," Mr. Rho said. He said more details will be available then. Mr. Rho embarked upon his nine-day tour of those countries on Aug. 31 in a bid to showcase Korea's IT technologies to those potential markets, while at the same time enlisting their support for Seoul's bid to be re-elected as a board member of the International Telecommunication Union, an organization that promotes cooperation among telecom companies.
The Internet search company Google Inc. said yesterday that it will establish a research and development center in Korea that will focus on technology related to the Internet. Google signed a joint agreement with the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency yesterday. The Commerce Ministry said the center is part of the Korean government's efforts to attract technology- oriented foreign companies to create research facilities in Korea. The agreement enables Google to put direct investment into the center. Construction schedules and other details, including the center's location and financial figures, will be announced later. Google does not have a branch in Korea, so the center will marks its first official presence here. Google senior vice president Alan Eustace said the company hoped to continue investment in Korea and may establish a local office. He said engineers for the center have already been hired. He also said that North Korea's nuclear test did not affect Google's decision to invest. Google is locating in Korea because of its network infrastructure, among other reasons, he said.
Korea＊s exports of information technology (IT) goods accounted for 34 percent of its total overseas shipments in 2004, the highest ratio among the world＊s advanced nations, the Ministry of Information and Communication said Wednesday (Oct. 11). Citing the "IT Outlook 2006" by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the ministry said Korea also came in second in terms of the IT industry＊s value added, one notch higher than two years earlier. The biennial report, which was first released in 2002, is based on economic data provided by 30 OECD member countries. The organization unveiled the latest one at a meeting in Hungary earlier this month. Korea＊s investment in research and development for IT sectors compared to gross domestic product ranked second among the member countries, the report showed. Finland was first in the category. In broadband Internet penetration rate, the country came in second with 25 out of 100 inhabitants having access to the high-speed network, following Iceland whose figure was 27.
Samsung Electronics said yesterday that it succeeded in applying its latest 50-nanometer technology to develop the world's first 1-gigabit dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chip. Compared to current 80-nanometer DRAM chips, the new technology will enable Samsung to produce more than double the number of chips on the same wafer. It will also take less electricity to operate personal computers, game consoles and mobile phones at higher speeds. Cho Nam-yong, vice president of Samsung Electronics' semiconductor division, said the company's 50-nanometer technology will tear down technology barriers. "We have differentiated ourselves from our competitors by widening the technology gap by more than a year," he said. "We have made for us, in a sense, the foundation on which Samsung can lead the DRAM market for the next 40 years. "A nanometer is one billion times smaller than a meter; the smaller number of nanometers means that more semiconductors can be drawn from a single wafer. Current technology for chip-making is based on 80-nano technology, which enables the company to produce more than two times more wafers during the same event. DRAM chips are mainly used for computers. The chipmaker said that it will begin mass production of the 50-nanometer DRAM chips in the first quarter of next year, anticipating the global market to grow to 55 trillion won ($57.5 billion) in the next four years.
The company attributed Microsoft Corp.'s upcoming Windows Vista operating platform as one of the reasons it foresees robust demand for DRAM chips. "Rising personal computer shipments and higher memory demand per PC will drive the market's growth next year," Mr. Cho said. "The peak of the impact from Vista could come in the second half of next year. We expect Vista to create more than $23 billion in demand for main and graphics memory in PC computers over three years from 2007."Samsung Electronics began its semiconductor business in 1983, and developed the world's first 64-megabyte DRAM chip that year. According to the global market research firm DataQuest, the global DRAM market has surpassed $30 billion and may grow next year to $35 billion. Samsung said it now has 32 percent of the DRAM market, but it plans to increase that to 36 to 40 percent.
Starting next year, subway commuters will have a new diversion: the Web. Seoul Metro says it will install the wireless Internet technology WiBro in its stations and subway cars, and launch the service in January. The WiBro service commercialized in and around Seoul in June will allow those with WiBro-enabled PDAs and laptops to download pictures, music and video files while on the go. Seoul Metro also plans to spend W327 billion (US$349 million) to replace hundreds of aging subway cars by 2009.
Joo Ah-young, a 15-year-old with a mental handicap, was separated from her parents on an outing, and was missing for 15 days before the police decided to take another approach to the search. An SMS message with her photo was sent to people in Seoul and Gyeonggi province. Two days after the message was sent, a call came to the police from a security guard of a shopping mall in Dongdaemun, saying that he had found Ms. Joo. Now that most people, regardless of age or social status, carry cellular phones, they are being used as a form of broadcasting messages that involve social welfare or national security. Finding lost children is one example. SK Telecom's mobile child-seeking service is operated jointly with the National Police Agency and the Korea Welfare Foundation. Subscribers of SK Telecom, which is the largest mobile service provider in Korea, receive text messages that come with photos. Users can choose not to receive the messages. They can also make a free phone call to report any sighting.Text messages are first sent to people who are around the area where the child was first reported missing, and then the radius is expanded if no one responds. Similar to child-finding services, there is also a mobile broadcasting service to find lost senile elderly citizens.
Mobile disaster broadcasting services are also available, through the National Emergency Management Agency's agreements with SK Telecom, KTF and LG Telecom. Typhoon warnings, for instance, tell people of extreme weather conditions and relay messages if they have to evacuate their homes. Last summer, this network saved lives when torrential rains hit the mountainous regions of Gangwon province and caused landslides and floods. In the past, such announcements were made through television or radio, but many people do not keep those devices on all the time and the broadcasts do not cater to specific regions. For Koreans traveling abroad, service operators offer special alerts if any emergencies are occurring in their area. Conducted in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry, people using global roaming service can receive a text message that explains the situation and gives the number of the Korean embassy in that country, or any other numbers that the person can call for help. "If one is in a foreign country, some emergency may be happening and one may not know it, because of language problems. This service was used in the British bus terror incident and Southeast Asian tsunami," said Kim Hye-jin, a SK Telecom spokeswoman.
Internet portals are spending more money to acquire quality content. In addition to intense competition for content created by individuals, more commonly referred to as user created content, or UCC, firms are now creating liaisons with larger organizations to gain more stable content from professional sources. NHN Corp., which operates the Internet portal site Naver, signed an agreement yesterday with the Korean Film Council to provide film-related content and free films online. On the movie service section of Naver, the largest portal site in Korea, the Korean Film Council will provide statistics, such as weekly popularity ratings, import-export figures of films, and other information from the council's film database of Korean and foreign films. NHN also acquires video contents of films that are available as free streaming services. Such films are not commercial films, but mostly short independent films and art films, which were screened at film festivals and provided with the consent of the director or the organizer of the festival during the event.
"The Internet is a good platform that can serve to communicate culture contents such as those related with the film industry. Increasing online film-related content will help develop the Korean film industry and make our Internet content more abundant in quantity and quality," said Choi Hwi-young, chief executive officer of NHN.Etoos, an online education site operated by SK Communications Co., said yesterday that it acquired a 7.1- percent stake in Cheongsol Hagwon, a private education institute that offers lectures and other college admissions-related information. SK Communications operates Cyworld, the biggest community portal, as well as Nate, another major Internet portal. The 5 billion won ($5.3 million) investment allows Etoos to exclusively use Cheongsol's education contents. Cheongsol runs offline institutes similar to cram schools.
In an effort to cater to foreign investors in Korea, the Financial Supervisory Service announced yesterday that its Web site for regulatory filing would be available in English, starting in January. The Web site is commonly known as DART, short for data analysis, retrieval and transfer system. It is a Web site where listed companies can post their regulatory filing data directly online without submitting it in hard copies. The development of the site began in the summer of 1998, and the comprehensive filing service covering companies listed in both the Kospi and the Kosdaq launched four years later. The data are available for public viewing. Under the plan announced yesterday, the financial regulator would encourage local listed companies to submit their online filings in English so that foreign investors can read the information. Firms listed in both local and foreign stock markets would be the first group asked to submit their filings in both Korean and English. Domestic companies would be asked to post material from investor relations presentations conducted in foreign countries. The agency added that it would link the English section of the listed companies' Web sites to DART. The English sites of Korea Exchange, the operator of local stock and futures markets, and of Korea Listed Companies Association, would also be linked with the DART site.
Nursultan Nazarbaev inaugurated Kazakhstan's largest information-technology (IT) park outside the former capital Almaty on September 15, according to Kazinform and "Kazakhstan Today." The new IT park, located within the special economic zone established in 2003 in the village of Alatau, seeks to attract global IT companies and aims to emerge as an "intellectual center" for the region. Nazarbaev said that nearly a dozen of the world's leading IT and communication companies have already committed to offices and training centers in the Alatau IT City information-technology park. RG
In 2004, just 50% of Uzbekistan＊s secondary schools could access a computer - including outdated, Soviet era models - while only 18% had access to modern personal computers (PCs). So it is in many parts of Asia and the Pacific, where a lack of equipment and the capacity to apply and maintain it within school systems sustains the digital divide now at the forefront of development discussions. Yet Uzbekistan and most of its Asian neighbors also have a clear desire to tap the power of information and communication technology (ICT) to improve education and provide students with the skills they will need to compete later in life. Many have anchored the adoption of ICT into their education development strategies. In its latest Education Sector Report, ADB recommends more emphasis on more responsive investment in ICT, and in science and technology. ADB is working to foster an environment that encourages its developing member countries (DMCs) to take up the latest technology in a way that will be financially sustainable, encourage still further innovation, and expand use of ICT into poorer, more remote areas. Education systems in the region can be radically improved through intelligent use of innovative ICT, appropriate training for teachers and sector managers, and support to centers that nurture new ideas.
A new $30 million loan to Uzbekistan - approved in 2005, and the first ADB loan devoted entirely to integrating ICT into basic education - underscores this point well. The loan advances ADB＊s efforts at improving the application of ICT - which in the past have suffered from a lack of capacity within many school systems for handling computer technology - by putting special emphasis on training teachers and other staff to use ICT for learning, and encouraging the establishment of learning centers. Among its four components, the Uzbekistan project will equip 860 ※cluster leader§ schools with ICT facilities and internet/intranet connections, which will serve as centers for spreading the knowledge to clusters of other schools in poor, rural, and remote areas. These cluster leader schools will provide an efficient system not only for the delivery to all schools of e-learning materials and information, but also for education development activities within each cluster. They will provide pedagogical, technical, and management support, and an institutional structure for the rapid development of teacher training.
The emphasis of this project is not only on additional infrastructure, but also on establishing the sustainability of the project and on teacher training issues, says Lan Wu, an ADB Principal Social Sector Economist. ※These are the parameters within which such a project must function, ※otherwise it is useless,§ he says. The project also includes components to develop teacher and staff skills in applying ICT to learning and teaching, to develop ICT learning materials in Uzbek and other local languages of instruction, and to advise the Government on how to strengthen the sustainability of its policy on ICT use in basic education. In the last decade, ADB is increasingly assisting countries in Asia and the Pacific in integrating ICT in education to support learning. Increased computing power, combined with improved wireless access, user-friendly satellite technology, and reduced telecommunications costs, are lowering the barriers to a more widespread use of ICT in education, making it more possible to reach all groups in a society, including the poor, and people in remote areas. These developments make such computer and internet-linked concepts as elearning, e-textbooks, and e-teacher training more feasible.
They have already begun to shape the way teachers teach and students learn in many parts of Asia and the Pacific, and those concepts will continue to grow. The latest technological changes are also presenting alternatives to expensive desktop computers - including affordable laptops designed particularly for poor environments, handheld devices, and other options. ICT in education is a broadening field in no way limited to personal computers. ※ADB aims to nurture the use of ICT concepts in education and, in particular, to ensure useful applications for improving learning and teacher training in education,§ says Jouko Sarvi, ADB Principal Education Specialist. ADB will work toward some of these goals through a $1 million technical assistance grant to explore the potential for new learning technologies, approved in December 2005, and known as the ※Technical Assistance for Innovative Information and Communication Technology in Education, and its Potential for Reducing Poverty in the Asia and Pacific Region.§ Financed by the Poverty Reduction Cooperation Fund, the project＊s three components will include implementing studies to support policy and strategy development in the areas of ICT in education, analyzing the extent of demand for it and how it can be used to improve access to quality education and thus reduce poverty.
The project will implement pilot studies in Bangladesh, Mongolia, Nepal, and Samoa, piggybacking ongoing ADB-funded education projects to support trial interventions in e-textbook development and e-teacher training in a small sample of schools. A third component will support an ongoing series of international conferences on ICT in education. The funds will allow more representatives of ADB＊s DMCs to travel to the conferences and share their ideas. To be most successful, however, ADB＊s support for ICT in education must coincide with investment in appropriate science and technology, as well as centers of excellence pursuing ICT innovations in education. When carefully combined they will provide a strong impetus. While some middle-income countries in the region have progressed in science and technology to meet their economic and social development challenges, the majority have fallen short and most lack the capacity to take full advantage of scientific and technological advances. ADB can play an important role in adapting education systems to provide for the needs of economies reliant on ICT, and science and technology-related industries. It can provide capacity development and help support the links and cooperation necessary between these for their actions to succeed. It means helping education systems produce graduates with an appropriate mix of skills for a knowledge-based economy. (by Eric Van Zant)
Indonesia has begun rolling out its first-ever third generation (3G) cellular services, a report has said. Telkomsel, an associate company of Singapore Telecommunications, began offering high-speed wireless service for mobile phones on Thursday after a successful trial in August, the Jakarta Post reported. "We have built 300 base transceiver stations in Jakarta to provide 3G service," Telkomsel director for planning and development, Bambang Riadhy Oemar, was quoted as saying. The service, which promises access to high-speed Internet surfing, videos and music, is currently limited, however, to just over a dozen discrete areas in the capital Jakarta, the report said. Oemar said that the company planned to invest about 3.0 trillion rupiah (326 million dollars) to increase the number of stations to 3,000 within three years as it expands its coverage across the archipelago nation. Around 60,000 customers had registered for the service so far, six times the number Telkomsel anticipated, Oemar said in the report. Four other companies have been awarded 3G operating licenses -- Indosat, Excelcomindo, Natrindo Telepon Selular and Hutchison CP Telecommunications, the report said. Excelcomindo plans to begin offering services by the end of the year, while the other three are still preparing their trial operations.
Even though education was one of the first fields to which the Internet was applied, the evolution of e-learning still lags far behind others of the new technologies, such as e-commerce or audiovisual production. The lack of a specific methodology, well-prepared professionals and false expectations of personalized training are a few of the reasons that have prevented or at least delayed e-learning from taking off. The methodology and management of new information technologies applied to a particular project objective offer optimization of technology resources. Email allowed for immediate written communication; video streaming gives users the opportunity to receive video files in seconds from any place in the world; and thanks to blogs, we can easily manage web pages, with multiple users and global visibility. All these are technological solutions when they are applied and used to make a big difference. For example, with a forum, a web, an email program and a back office to manage the system, we can create a platform for an e-shop, an e-bank or for e-learning. But that is not enough.
The first steps in e-learning were taken in order to improve services provided by university or educational organizations on their distance-learning programs. New information technologies permitted these institutions to increase their offer to an increasing number of students. That is what we call online long-distance training. Communication has improved thanks to email. Before this, it was more expensive and scarce because telephone calls or tutorials were the only means. Moreover, sending study materials through email or downloading it from a website has replaced the more costly and time-consuming postal -- or snail -- mail. We still find some limitations in online distance training. Time dedicated by the teacher continues to be limited, but the amount of consultations and questions have multiplied due to the access that email grants every student. And most of the time, it is not the teacher himself but a tutor who answers students' questions. A third obstacle is that the online classes continue to be as static as they have always been, with downloaded texts and final examinations too similar to those that must be passed in conventional classrooms.
We have to add up the expectations raised around this kind of learning -- often sold as a personalized classroom, with access to experts and quality material -- that, in general, are not met. These are the main reasons that have led to the so-called "deception" of online students, the large rate of desertion and thus the discredit that follows. E-learning is based on a methodology that takes advantage of the new information technologies and offers a more complete learning experience, providing the student with tools and resources to which they could not resort until recently. When we talk about e-learning, we are not talking about a form of distance training with added digital services; we are talking about something that is totally new. E-learning is based on online knowledge management, therefore on professionals who can take advantage of knowledge not only developed by teachers and experts, but also via the participation and interaction with students. The online knowledge manager thus provides sources and resources that are available in other areas of cyberspace.
They help us make the most of the possibilities that the web offers in accessing reliable information and knowledge that we could not or did not know how to obtain. As important as generating and managing that knowledge is in its dissemination -- that is, for it to be available to all students, from anywhere and at any time. Aside from the question of whether students have the necessary computer capacity for e-learning, this facility is not about downloading videos of a teacher giving a lesson or video-conferencing possibilities. These technical resources are fine, but they do not give more information than written material or a chat room could offer. E-learning takes advantage of the resources and experts available on the Net and provides students access to them, creating interactive methodologies to work in a network with other peers in a virtual space, sharing the knowledge of the group beyond the individual participants' time zones or geographic locations.
I-Bhd has teamed up with Intel Corp in the development of digital services infrastructure at its i-City project in Shah Alam. I-Bhd chief executive officer Eu Hong Chew said Intel was one of a multi-member consortium that would co-undertake the development of the digital infrastructure of i-City. The other members included a telecommunications company, which would be named by year-end, he said after signing the collaboration agreement with Intel yesterday. Eu said I-Bhd and Intel would collaborate on several platforms, including digital township services infrastructure and the setting up of a digital products retail centre, ICT Mall. The ICT giant will also set up an Intel showcase centre at the township to display its latest technologies and establish an e-learning centre using the Intel Solution Kit for Education. ※We are building a benchmark to be more than just a broadband-enabled project. Our initiative will serve many levels as well as the future,§ Eu added. Intel director (South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand) Philip Cronin said the collaboration would focus on the use of Intel technologies in facilitating the day-to-day activities of the community in i-City.
※Intel will help I-Bhd build a robust architecture to ensure the vision of setting up a truly digital township be realised,§ he added. Designed by world-renowned architect Jon Jerde, the RM1.5bil digital township in Shah Alam boasts, among other things, corporate offices, a retail mall, serviced residences, a hotel, an innovation centre, an intelligent school, a 1,000-ft pedestrian CityWalk and shop offices. The i-City ICT masterplan includes the development of the ICT Mall, an incubation programme, digital technology based township services such as remote surveillance, smart cark parking, information kiosk and sensory-activated light and sound multimedia displays. I-City has already been designated the premier ICT hub for Selangor and has been endorsed by the Tourism Ministry as one of the country's unique tourist destinations. Eu said I-Bhd had seen brisk sales when it kickstarted the first phase of I-City with shophouses early this year. The company expects sales from the project to contribute significantly to its earnings this year. It sold 50% of the 44 units of shophouses with a total value of RM70mil.
KUALA LUMPUR: Maxis Communications Berhad has announced the upcoming launch of residential broadband services over its 3G network. Maxis is using HSDPA (High Speed Data Packet Access) technology, a high-speed upgrade of the 3G network, for the rollout of large scale residential broadband services. HSDPA offers speeds that are 3 times faster than 3G and 20 times faster than traditional dial-up, allowing consumers to experience greatly improved Internet access to browsing, email, video streaming, online gaming and music downloads. Consumers in the Klang Valley and Penang will be the first to enjoy Maxis＊ new broadband services. Maxis chief executive officer Datuk Jamaludin Ibrahim said, "Over the last 18 months, we have spearheaded global industry development by adjusting the 3G network to residential broadband requirements and by developing an affordable home modem that offers both Internet access and voice." Broadband access will be possible not only in the designated High Speed 3G areas, but also across Maxis＊ extensive 3G and Enhanced Data rate for GSM Evolution (EDGE) coverage. "Maxis is determined to become a major broadband player and we have already committed RM150mil to build up and launch this business. From a technology perspective, we see both HSDPA and WiMax as the key platforms for delivering affordable, reliable and mobile broadband services to our consumers," said Jamaludin. Packages, pricing and coverage areas will be revealed at the formal launch of Maxis Broadband, which is scheduled on Sept26.
KLUANG: Internet-ready Access Centres costing more than RM70mil in total are being set up in 1,500 schools around the country. Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said that the Access Centres would be similar in concept to cybercafes, although its usage would focus on learning and to allow students to work on their assignments. ※It is different from the existing computer labs which is used to teach certain subjects. The centres will be a separate room from the labs, as the labs will be needed to conduct lessons,§ he said. Hishammuddin added that under the first phase, 1,500 schools would be provided with 15,000 personal computers and 1,500 printers as well as the necessary furniture and infrastructure. ※The programme is being rolled out as we speak,§ he said, adding that another 12,900 computers would be provided to 1,290 schools next year (2007). He said with the Access Centres, the ratio of computers to students in schools would be decreased allowing students to be more exposed to information and communication technologies (ICT). Hishammuddin said the Ministry decided to go ahead with the programme after launching a pilot phase in 10 schools in the Kalabakan parliamentary constituency in Sabah early this year. He added that to date 84 primary and secondary schools in the rural areas of Sabah and Johor have been equipped with Access Centres. ※The focus is on rural areas first, as I believe the exposure (of students) to computers in the city is quite high,§ he said before breaking fast with the residents of Felda Ulu Belitong here on Saturday evening. Hishammuddin added that with such centres, students without computers or Internet connection would not have to frequent cybercafes. ※I am worried with the number and frequency of students visiting cybercafes, as we all know that cybercafes lack supervision and this may lead to unhealthy activities,§ he said.
XTHREEM IN.TRIQUE donated RM250,000 worth of "seats" (log in IDs) for the In.Trique e-Learning Programme in selected schools in Kepong and the Community ICT Centre in Petaling Jaya. The donation was made at a recent buka puasa gathering organised by the Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry (Pikom). The selected schools will get a total of 500 seats while the Community ICT Centre will get 20 seats. Each seat, which can be used by multiple users, is worth RM588 a year. Pikom's chairman Lee Boon Kok received the donation on behalf of the Community ICT Centre and Senator Datuk Rizuan Abdul Hamid, who is Umno division chief for Kepong, on behalf of the schools. Xthreem In.Trique, which is a joint venture between In.Trique CC and Europe-based Xthreem Inc, provides an interactive, Web-based e-learning programme for students.
GLOBE Telecom Inc., the Philippines＊ second largest mobile-phone service provider said demand for 3G (third generation) technology services is expected to flourish by next year as the cost of handsets is seen to go down. Ferdinand de la Cruz, Globe consumer wireless group head, said the demand for 3G services will be driven primarily by phone prices adding that 3G-enabled phone handsets shall come down below $200 (approximately P10,000) by next year. Currently, 3G phones cost between $350 and $450. Napoleon L. Nazareno, president of rival Smart Communications Inc. had said that handsets should go down at least $100 before 3G services become viable in the country. At end-June, de la Cruz said 50,000 to 60,000 Globe subscribers are using 3G services adding that the company has around 250,000 3G phones on its network. ※Its [the number of 3G users] growing every month,§ he said. In the first six months of the year, Globe posted net new SIMs (subscribers identification modules) of 1.5 million to 13.9 million. De la Cruz said killer applications of 3G include Internet browsing, downloading, video screaming and video calls. 3G, which allows for the faster transfer of video and other content over mobile phone networks, is considered the next biggest thing in mobile telephony. Earlier, Globe had signed a contract with Nokia to upgrade the telco＊s network to 3G capability. Gerardo C. Ablaza Jr., Globe president and chief executive officer said the contract with Nokia would enable Globe to offer a whole suite of innovative services to customers at a more cost-efficient manner. ※These include voice and data applications that can be seamlessly offered across both the 2G [second generation] and 3G network as well as between the fixed and mobile networks. Services like VoIP (voice over Internet protocol), video conferencing, video sharing and other applications will enable Globe to build the digital communities within the Philippines and between the families of overseas Filipino workers,§ Ablaza said. At end June, the company had more than 5,500 cell sites. In December the National Telecommunication Commission awarded 3G licenses to Smart, Globe, Digital Telecommunications Phils. Inc. and Connectivity Resources Inc., but only Smart and Globe had begun offering the service to subscribers.
PHILIPPINE pharmaceutical giant United Laboratories Inc. has launched a 24-hour online scientific information resource center to support research and information needs of the medical and healthcare sectors. Unilab chairman Jocelyn Campos-Hess said the Electronic Scientific Databank (e-SDB) would make research work more convenient for doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. It is part of Unilab's commitment to address the continuing education needs of the medical and allied professions, she said in a statement. The e-SDB offers full texts of medical studies and articles from reputable international scientific journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Drug Topics. It is expected to help keep the medical and allied professions updated on the latest trends and developments in medical research and technology.
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) launches a US$10.5million infocomm programme for GPs to provide more personalised healthcare to patients. Come 1st October, GPs in more than 1000 clinics will be able to tap on a four-year infocomm programme launched by the IDA, to accelerate infocomm adoption in the primary healthcare sector. GPs are encouraged to leverage on infocomm to seamlessly update and retrieve their patients＊ health records, through integrated clinic management systems (CMS). Presently, the adoption of infocomm by GPs is still low and many, especially solo practitioners and small GP groups, work on different systems to access patient＊s information, billing charges and insurance claims. The integrated CMS will offer a comprehensive suite of functionalities through a single interface. This was announced today by Dr Balaji Sadasivan, Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts and Foreign Affairs, at the second annual International Healthcare Facilities Exhibition and Conference. Beyond this integrated service, the CMS will eventually help GPs in Singapore to plug into the national healthcare network to achieve the Ministry of Health＊s (MOH) ※One Singaporean, One Electronic Medical Record§ vision.
In the future, the system will facilitate GPs to submit mandatory information to MOH, for example infectious disease reporting, immunisation reporting to the Health Promotion Board and access to patients＊ allergies and medical alerts. Seamless flow of information can also be achieved via the CMS, to allow GPs to work in an integrated and coordinated manner with other hospitals and step-down care providers. Aligned with the MOH＊s Medisave for Chronic Disease Management Programme, the CMS can help participating GPs with the capturing of clinical indicators so that GPs are able to keep track of their patients＊ progress and enhance their care delivery as well as make Medisave claims. In June this year, IDA launched the nation＊s next 10-year infocomm masterplan, iN2015, Healthcare was identified as one of the key sectors that infocomm can help enhance and transform through an infocomm-enabled personalised healthcare delivery system. In order for GPs and other providers to effectively participate in the care of patients within the healthcare ecosystem, it is necessary to accelerate infocomm adoption in these facilities. Patients, especially those with chronic diseases, and whose GPs adopt the CMS, will be able to benefit from better trending of their clinical record and reminders for their regular annual screenings. They will also benefit from smoother clinic operations and claims processes.
※Using IT can bring important new benefits to patients. Real time access to timely and accurate patient information will help doctors provide better care to patients. This is especially important for patients suffering from chronic diseases because they require coordinated care over the long-term. We hope that GPs will adopt the integrated CMS to provide more personalised healthcare for their patients,§ said Yong Ying-I, Permanent Secretary, MOH. Chan Yeng Kit, Chief Executive Officer, IDA said: ※Like healthcare, infocomm is today an intrinsic part of our lives. By marrying the two, and harnessing our local infocomm capabilities, we can provide a more personalised standard of care to patients. With more than 80 per cent of the primary healthcare sector managed by GPs, the integrated CMS will form a fundamental building block of an infocomm-enabled personalised healthcare delivery system.§ IDA is working with leading Application Services Providers (ASPs) in the healthcare industry to provide a comprehensive suite of functionalities within the integrated CMS to the GPs. Through the ASP model, clinics can avoid high capital investments required to develop their own CMS. IDA is also working with the major medical groups to enhance their enterprise CMS. Currently, CrimsonLogic and Frontline Technologies are developing the integrated CMS solution to meet the GP＊s needs. IDA is also working with Internet Services Providers (ISP) such as SingTel on special broadband subscription packages to the clinics.
With the IMF World Bank meetings held in Singapore, Infocomm technology companies in Singapore are taking the opportunity to network with representatives of international financial institutions. A forum was organised on Thursday by IE Singapore and the Infocomm Development Authority for the two groups to meet. Infocomm tech firms say they are in a good position to help global financial companies which are seeking to expand their operations in the region. Cash from ATMS, bills paid through the internet, and telephone banking are some examples of how technology has been incorporated into the financial services world to better serve customers. There are incentive for members of the industry to do more. According to a recent Deloitte report, bank deposits in the Asia Pacific are projected to exceed US$11 trillion by 2010. This presents great opportunities for financial services providers, who need to deploy advanced technology to scale up and enhance their operations. Financial institutions are now looking at solutions for their integrated end-to-end operations. "The ability to integrate data warehouses, customer data warehouse, having different customer segments, to front office delivery systems to trading platforms, to distribution channels, and to be able to do all the operational controls, is very important in a world that is fast changing," said Euleen Goh, Chairman, IE Singapore.
"We've put in the basic co-banking, so we're looking at further channels like internet banking, phone banking. We also need to deploy credit cards which we don't have yet. Then there's treasury systems, trade finance," said Dinesh Fernandopulle, Group CIO, DFCC Bank, Sri Lanka. Companies such as Singapore Computer Systems, which specialise in implementing integrated end-to-end operations, say they are well-placed to help global financial firms expanding in the region. "There are many developing countries that are coming up, for example Indonesia and Thailand. We are in this position that enables us to work closely with these countries. For developed countries that want to have a presence in this area, they can work through Singapore, with IT companies in Singapore, to tap the resources in this region, in the ASEAN region," said Jeremy Ong, Vice President, Trusted Solutions, SCS. Several international banks are already leveraging on Singapore're infocom technology expertise, including Credit Suisse First Boston and Barclays. Credit Suisse First Boston hosts its Global Support Centre here, while Barclay's Bank is centralising its Asia Pacific IT functions in Singapore. IE Singapore and the IDA are working to reach a threefold increase in infocomm export revenue to S$60b by 2015.ㄗby Priyia Paramajothiㄘ
SINGAPORE : Your mobile phone may just end up saving your life during an emergency crisis. That is what the Singapore Civil Defence Force is hoping for as it rolls out its latest public education drive by the end of the year. Speaking at the annual Civil Defence Day Parade on Friday, Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee said the "My Ready Mobile" initiative will utilise the community's existing mobile lifestyle. Associate Professor Ho said, "Short educational video clips on critical emergency preparedness information, adapted from the Civil Defence Emergency Handbook, will be made available on a dedicated webpage on the SCDF website. And to ensure that we have this information readily on hand, we can download this information and keep it in our mobile phones." The Civil Defence also intends to keep tabs on hazardous materials stored by industrial companies in Singapore. Come November, a 'Live Inventory Portal' will be launched, where some 430 participating warehouses, refineries and industrial premises can update their Hazmat information online.
SINGAPORE: High net worth individuals in Singapore were the third most wealthy in Asia last year. Each person held an average US$4.7m, according to the latest report by investment house Merrill Lynch and business consultancy firm Capgemini. The report defines high net worth individuals as those with at least US$1m in net financial assets. Stock markets on the uptrend and generally robust economic growth helped to make rich Asians even richer last year. "You have positive wealth effects from asset values across Asia, you're having both stock market and property markets, asset values increasing quite significantly. On top of that, most GDPs of businesses throughout Asia are starting to rebound quite substantially from the lows that we had back after the financial crisis. So the combination of wealth effects and asset values and business doing well, I think, are creating very strong growth for these high net worth individuals," said Tony Raza, Head of Singapore Research, Merrill Lynch. A report by Merrill and Capgemini showed that high net worth individuals in Hong Kong led the region, with an average net worth of US$5.3m. China was next at US$5m per person, followed by Singapore at US$4.7m. Singapore also had the highest percentage of high net worth individuals in its adult population at 1.48 percent. In Hong Kong, 1.3 percent of the adult population are high net worth individuals.
Collectively, Singapore's high net worth individuls held US$260b in assets last year. Out of the 55,000 high net worth individuals in Singapore, 18,000 are of Indonesian origin. They hold approximately US$87b in financial wealth. Analysts say Singapore's open immigration policy has helped attract these wealthy individuals from neighbouring countries. The key markets covered by the report include China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. Experts see the future of the global wealth management industry in Asia where the number wealthy individuals rose 7.3 percent on year to 2.4 million in 2005. Singapore is set to capture this growth by positioning itself as a regional financial service centre. "Maybe in the future there might also be possibilities of attracting additional investors from China and that might be a very big potential especially given that there is a strong cultural relationship between Singapore and China," said Dirk Chanmueller, Vice President, Capgemini China. High net worth individuals in Asia-Pacific hold about US$ 7.6 trillion, with China accounting for over 20 percent of this wealth.
SINGAPORE: Some 100 Nanyang Girls High School students will be the first in Singapore to join a global online educational community. Run by software company Oracle, the international website Think.com will enable the students to interact and share learning activities with their peers around the world. The portal has students from 42 countries between the ages of 7 to 16 communicating and collaborating. Students get their own personal Web space and can exchange email, create web pages, share photos, videos and learning activities. One of the features that makes Think.com so special is its secure online environment. Teachers moderate the pages while Oracle monitors the website to make sure there are no breaches. Schools also control registration to ensure that all around the world, it's only students who are logging on. Nanyang Girls High School is using the portal for its bicultural programmes, community involvement projects and overseas attachments. "After I come back from China, I can still get the chance to interact with my friends from China, via this portal. I have taken a more proactive role in learning because it's no longer listening to teachers talk in classrooms; it's also us putting up things on the Web to share with our friends," said Ong Si Ying, a student from Nanyang Girls' High School. "It broadens your horizons a lot and you learn that the world is such a big place. It makes me want to go out there and find out everything else that is happening in the world," said Tan Tianyi, a student from Nanyang Girls' High School. Another feature for parents lets them keep in touch with their children no matter how far overseas their field trips take them. "It's a very user friendly platform and I think the teachers enjoy using Think.com because they can monitor the children's work - that kind of discussion and that kind of vibrancy will be more pervasive," said Mak Lai Ying, Principal, Nanyang Girls' High School. Oracle hopes to be able to roll out Think.com to other schools in Singapore and has already invested some $4.5m in the portal just for the Asia-Pacific region.
Pacific Internet Limited, Asia Pacific's largest telco-independent Internet Communications Service Provider by geographic reach, has launched the first phase of its PacNet @irPower service (@ir stands for Access-in-Range), a robust enterprise-grade wireless service that gives businesses greater operational control over their broadband. The service is targeted initially at companies located in the western part of Singapore. PacNet @irPower is a stable and secure wireless broadband service that offers additional bandwidth when customers need it, through its "burstable bandwidth" feature. This feature enhances flexibility for users by providing additional bandwidth over what customers' access plans normally allow, when needed most. More importantly, costs are effectively controlled as they are capped at the 95 percentile of actual usage. Customers of the new service can rank and allocate bandwidth according to their specific business requirements through traffic prioritization to have better control of their available bandwidth. Users will also be able to change traffic priority to adapt to evolving business decisions. With more efficient use of bandwidth, customers will gain costs and time savings. The service is delivered through the proprietary technology that rides on a spectrum licensed by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore that allows only authorised units to have access to the secure network. PacNet @irPower also comes with an optional managed firewall service that can be enabled remotely. Customers of this unlimited high-speed Internet access service also enjoy symmetric access for rich voice and video applications, as well as other critical business applications. A useful control tool that comes with the service is the online monitoring tool that shows customers the bandwidth usage of their networks at a glance.
Strong growth in its Indian and Indonesian associates has pushed Singapore Telecommunications' (SingTel) Asia Pacific mobile subscriber base above 100 million, the company said on Tuesday. SingTel mobile phone customers totalled 100.8 million at end-September, up 36 percent from about 74 million a year earlier, Southeast Asia's biggest telecom company said in a statement. "This is the largest mobile subscriber base in Asia outside of China," it said. Compared with the quarter ended June, SingTel said it added 8.4 million mobile subscribers to register its highest quarterly growth. "The strongest growth came from Bharti and Telkomsel," the company said, referring to its associates in India and Indonesia. SingTel has a 30.49 percent interest in Bharti and a 35 percent stake in Telkomsel, Indonesia's biggest mobile operator. Bharti posted a record 92 percent year-on-year growth in its mobile subscriber base to 27.1 million as of September, while Telkomsel customers jumped 38 percent to 32.5 million, SingTel said. SingTel's wholly owned Australian subsidiary SingTel Optus saw its mobile subscribers rise an annual 8.5 percent to 6.6 million in a highly competitive market. In the home market of Singapore, SingTel said it had a mobile phone client base of 1.7 million, up 81,000 from the previous quarter. SingTel also has a 45 percent equity stake in Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Ltd, 44.55 percent in the Philippines' Globe Telecom and 21.41 percent in Thailand's Advanced Info Systems. SingTel is to report its second-quarter and half-year results on Wednesday.
SINGAPORE: Innovative use of infocomm technology to enhance work and play has won four companies top awards in Singapore. Given out once every two years, it aims to encourage industry players to get creative in using infocomm technology to design products and services. For example Activate XGame, the world's first cross-platform multiplayer system, allows users to continue playing multi-player online games while on the move using their mobile phones. Developed locally, it currently supports five games with three new ones to be launched next year. "We are launching this game in eight countries in Asia. A lot of telcos are all very excited actually to publicise our game together with us. We are expanding right now to China, Europe, US, liaising with all the telcos there," said Leslie Wou, CEO, Activate Interactive. XID Technologies won an award for its "VideoPersonaliser".It allows users to animate an uploaded image of themselves or insert their picture into a movie trailer. Over at Woodlands checkpoint, many travellers are inserting their passports into immigration clearance gates. The $7m Enhanced Immigration Automated Clearance system is being installed at the Budget Terminal and Changi Airport Terminal One and will be implemented at all checkpoints in Singapore by the end of the year.
3 million Singaporeans are registered to use the system, and there are plans to extend this. "We are looking at work permit holders, whom we already have their thumb prints with us. We are thinking of Singapore PRs also," said Eric Chua, Director, Planning and Technology, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority. The system also helps to free up resources. For example, officers, who used to man the immigration counters, have been redeployed to conduct more intensive checks on high-risk travellers and goods. Efficient tracking of goods and work flow management have helped clinched an award for PSA Corporation. Its integrated system, called the Collaborative Port Community Solution, links the entire shipping community and has clocked 90 million transactions so far. PSA says the solution will save more than $100m for the shipping industry over three years. A special two-part series on the companies and their winning entries will be aired on Channel NewsAsia on the 12th and 19th of October.
SINGAPORE: Singapore must continue to build up its R&D culture and capability to establish a knowledge-based and innovation driven economy. Second Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, said while the next phase of the biomedical sciences initiative is targeted at translational research, Singapore will not lose momentum on basic biomedical research. He added that to help with basic biomedical research, the government will ramp up R&D capabilities in immunology and neuroscience, and more laboratory space will be available for the private sector and the growing scientific community at the Biopolis. Dr Balakrishnan also said that when the Fusionopolis is up and running by early 2008, this will bring together a broad suite of capabilities and talent. He was speaking at the National Science and Technology Awards Dinner, where he gave away the highest honour in Science and Technology to 16 outstanding researchers and young scientists. The need to cut up a patient during surgery may be a thing of the past, if a procedure, that is being tried out using automated robotics, is successful. "My current project entails what we call no-scar, no-hole surgery, so robotic manipulators will be introduced via the mouth into the organ. For example, now we are working on the stomach. So these micro-robotic arms would actually come out, when it is in the stomach, to perform delicate surgery, which are otherwise impossible, non-invasively now," said Assistant Prof Louis Phee, Winner, Young Scientist Award, Physical, Information and Engineering Sciences.
This procedure has been tried on animals and has so far shown success. Another project pending commercialisation is an automated colonoscopy robotic system, where a flexible device is inserted from the anus to check for cancer cells in the colon. This is to help make the procedure less uncomfortable for the patient and easier for the doctor to administer. "The current procedure, as most of us know will be introduction of this long and hideous colonoscope which is very traumatic and painful for the patient and for the surgeon, it would be technically demanding. So with this robot, firstly the surgeon can just relax and press the button and he can concentrate on his diagnosis work. As for the patient, he would experience lesser pain, a uniform procedure which is not dependent on the surgeon's skills,"said Dr Phee. Dr Phee's work has already resulted in a spin-off company and the device is expected to hit the market next year. Another recipient is Assistant Professor Yeo Yee Chia, whose research in nanoelectronics and semiconductor devices has resulted in developing Singapore's smallest transistor, and this is expected to lead to more efficient electronic devices, such as the mobile phones. "My team at NUS has made transistors as small as 25 nanometers, that is like 400 times smaller than the size of the human hair and we tweak the atoms in such transistors to improve the performance, to improve the electrical conduction properties and by doing that we make the electronics perform better or for given performance, we make electronics less power-hungry.
Take for example like the mobile phone. We will be able to enable more integration of functions into the mobile phones and doing that at the given power consumption, so less draining on the battery life," said Dr Yeo. This year, the highest award, the National Science and Technology Medal was presented to Dr Sydney Brenner for his contributions to the development of Singapore's scientific capability and culture. Among others, Dr Brenner was instrumental in the setting up of the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology and the development of the Biopolis. "I think that really is something to be proud of, that one can look back on 20 years when once was worth nothing and has participated in developing a whole Biopolis project and a whole new project of bringing medical, clinical and biological research together," said Dr Brenner. A*Star says that the winning awards reflect a deep passion for science, hard work and tenacity in finding answers to tough questions and they will indeed make a significant contribution to the development of R&D in Singapore. Other winners include a team that pioneered a sequencing technology that can be used to characterise the human genome. This team, led by Dr Ruan Yijun from the Genome Institute of Singapore won the National Science Award. In total, some 56 applications were received for the awards.
Thailand's first IT museum will begin to receive visitors in early 2007, joining two existing museums - the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum - at the Ministry of Science and Technology's Technopolis complex in Pathum Thani. Post Database met with the museum's director, Dr Aphiya Hathayatham, and her advisor Malcolm Bray to see first-hand how this exciting project was taking shape. Dr Aphiya explained that the building was actually completed seven years ago and was originally destined to be an aviation museum. However, that idea was not well received and it was decided to use the venue as an information technology museum three years ago by a committee by then Ministry of Science and Technology Permanent Secretary Professor Dr Pairash Thajchayapong. The purpose of the IT Museum is to introduce a new generation to IT and show that it is no longer simply a matter of science for scientists but something that affects our everyday lives. "Children need a scientific mind to be able to compete in the world of the future," Dr Aphiya said. Bray added that as in most countries, parents here want their children to be doctors and lawyers. They don't understand the career possibilities of IT. "We accept PCs without understanding what happens when we push a button. Today we have e-Passports, immigration, doctors - everywhere we see IT operating. But 90% of the IT, we are unaware of," he said. The museum starts off with communications, from stone-age cave paintings to the rise of the telegraph, Morse code, telephones, analogue switches, radio right through to satellite communications and today's Internet. Another area will explain how logic gates work and can be put together to make simple adding machines.
There will also be a "Spy Room" where visitors can play with all the latest espionage equipment. The museum will have a workshop for training - for everything from software programming to assembling computers. "We will also hold competitions here and have an e-Library. Last year we had a big event with Synnex (a major distributor of IT components) on computer assembly so that the children could understand how the different parts of a computer work together," she said. In addition to the static exhibition, the IT museum will hold science camps where children will learn to make their own simple logic circuits starting by making their own printed circuit boards. On certain days, there will be also hold science drama plays. Bray explained that it was all about putting a real-life person to a name and this is proven to help increase children's attention to the subject. One of the plays planned is to depict how Thomas Edison once designed a piece of equipment to measure the change in temperature during an eclipse. During his experiment, he got to the venue late and set up his equipment in the only sheltered place available, a fowl house. However, when the eclipse occurred, the chickens thought it was night and returned to their coop. "Edison wrote about how he was conducting the experiments with chickens literally sitting on his head, but he got the measurements he wanted. This way, children can suddenly discover Edison as a real man, not just a name in history," explained Bray, who plans to act himself from time to time.
Human resources departments burdened by the need for software training now have an easier and cost-effective means to train their staff, using Epiplex software, which is now available in both Thai and English languages. ''This is a software product that will help companies achieve both time and cost benefits,'' said Manoj Chawla, managing director of Chawla & Associates (Thailand), the parent company of Umax Solutions, the importer of Epiplex in Thailand. Epiplex is a US-based company with development support in Bangalore, India. Its software captures processes in live applications, then auto-generates documentation and animations based on them for future use. The software, which allows novice users to navigate complex processes in an easy step-by-step process, already has two major customers in Thailand. ''We have managed to get Yanhee Hospital and Kasikornbank Plc as our clients and Kasikornbank has sought more licences for the software,'' Mr Chawla says. Globally, multinationals such as Aetna, Morgan Stanley, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Nissan, Toyota, Deutsche Bank and others are customers of the software. The Windows-based software, which could cost $10,000 to $50,000 (375,000 to 1.87 million baht) depending on the requirements of each organisation, is easy to use. It can capture each function a trainer does and then distribute the captured data to all those using terminals connected to that server. The software takes users step-by-step until the end and then tests them on what they have learned, grading them based on speed and accuracy.
''This is basically a KPI (key performance indicator) for employees,'' said Arrak Sawatpanit, the business development manager for Umax. ''If you install new software, trainers will train for a few days and then leave, and if you want them to come back to retrain, there will be a heavy charge. By this process, you can capture the training process and use it to retrain anytime you feel it is necessary to do so,'' Mr Arak said while showing the simple example of capturing the creation of some tables on a Word document. ''This is a very simple illustration to show, but it can capture sound and video along with data that is done on the screen,'' he said when asked if complex issues could be taught in such a simple way. The company, which started its sales pitch just few months ago, has received positive responses from some of the country's leading financial institutions. ''We have held positive talks with some banks such as Bangkok Bank and are hopeful something will materialise soon,'' Mr Arrak said. Epiplex, which is currently being used by the Malaysian government for various educational programmes, is serviced by technicians in Thailand and a support team from India, who could be brought in if and when required.
Regional News - Electronic banking services have developed quickly in Ho Chi Minh City, according to a local representative of the State Bank of Vietnam's branch office. Internet banking, mobile banking, home banking, phone banking and other card and e-payment services are being used more and more by customers wanting to conduct their banking and payment services at the same time. At present, 6,400 automatic teller machines (ATMs) and electronic card readers have been installed in Ho Chi Minh City with 946,000 out of 1,078,000 issued bank cards being used for ATM access. Agribank, Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), Eastern Asia Commercial Bank (EAB) have also each installed between 200-300 ATMs nation-wide, in anticipation of increased use from customers. ACB has been particularly active in the commercial sector, signing up 140 enterprises that want to payroll and bill payment services and will generate a weekly turnover of between 2-3 billion VND.
Rural women in Bangladesh now can get advanced medical counselling from the specialists in the US, thanks to the Internet service. Amader Gram ICT for Development -- a non-government organisation (NGO) -- is going to launch an online service in detecting breast cancer in Bagerhat district from the second week of this month. The International Breast Cancer Research Foundation (IBCRF) of Ohio State University, USA will provide the service through Internet for the rural women of Bangladesh. "Initially the service for detecting breast cancer will be available at the Shaplaful Mother & Child Health Care Centre -- an associate organisation of Amader Gram -- in Bagerhat and later it will be extended to other areas of the country gradually," Reza Salim, project director of Amader Gram, told The Daily Star. The advice of US specialists will be available within eight hours in diagnosis of breast cancer and they will also make necessary suggestions for treatment. Amader Gram and IBCRF has recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement in Bagerhat to execute the project. Reza Salim and Heather Roberto, research specialist of IBCRF, signed the agreement on behalf of their organisations. Initial screening will be done to those with the breast tumour or other symptoms at the Primary Screening Centre. The reports of all these tests will be sent to the IBCRF through Internet. A group of Bangladeshi cancer specialists will provide necessary advice and treatment following the suggestions from the US. "The main objective of this project is to eradicate all sorts of taboos, fear, maltreatment or social restrictions faced by the rural women across the country," Reza Salim said. The project will bear all necessary cost of treatment for the poor. Amader Gram Communi-cations has provided necessary technological support including computer software and hardware in implementing this online service. A mobile phone helpline to get the services of the project will also be available very soon. ( by Monjur Mahmud )
In Sitakund sub-district, Bangladesh, a UNESCO-supported Youth Community Multimedia Centre (YCMC) is teaching people in rural areas about the value of community radio, using a combination of theatre and ICT. Volunteers of the YCMC, who recently participated in a ten-day training workshop on ※Forum Theatre§, produce interactive plays which explain the role of community media and contextualize it to the lives of the rural poor. Such plays thereby raise awareness and public demand for community radio legislation. These plays are now being performed regularly in various rural areas of Bangladesh. However, unlike other theatre approaches which follow a one-way message delivery mechanism or which collect feedback after the performance, Forum Theatre uses ICT (radio, television and telephone) to enable live and runtime feedback to be received. This mechanism allows viewers to express opinions during the play and change the outcome of the play. Each play, performed in the local language, begins with a story about a local issue. The first performance of the play ends with a negative conclusion. After the play there is a radio- and telephone-enabled interactive discussion of rural problems and an explanation of how local community media can be a means by which to raise and address such issues.
Then the same play is performed again, but this time the audiences have the opportunity, through a community radio station, to interrupt during the play, and change the direction of the story or demand changes in the roles of the characters. Audiences have to justify, with substantive reasons, their demands for changes and final decisions are based on group consensus. Therefore the community gets to determine how the story proceeds and ends, and in most cases the negative story becomes a positive one. The YCMC has discovered that this kind of approach makes people more aware of existing local issues and practices; raises awareness about the lack of access to mainstream media; and demonstrates how local communities can use community radio and other media to change their society. The Youth CMC in Sitakund developed out of a UNESCO-supported network on ICT innovations for poverty reduction, part of a cross-cutting effort towards the eradication of poverty. The establishment of the community multimedia centre was supported by UNESCO＊s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and the International CMC Initiative, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The CMC uses the local cable network for content dissemination, reaching about one thousand households in Sitakund and the CMC plans to set up loudspeakers directly from the studio. YCMC volunteers will generate locally-relevant content in the local language (Bangla) daily for one and half hours.
Bangladesh has emerged as one of Asia's top 10 mobile phone markets in terms of adding net subscribers. The country has added 8.945 million Generalised System of Multiple Access (GSMA) mobile users in a single year -- from July 2005 to June 2006."Bangladesh now ranked eighth among the top 10 Asian mobile markets in terms of adding net subscribers during January to March, 2006," Mehboob Chowdhury, chairman of GSM Asia Pacific, a regional forum of the GSMA mobile operators, told this correspondent recently. Citing the data of Informal Telecoms and Media, a London-based research firm, he said Bangladesh has had 1.265 million new users during the first quarter of 2006."The figure is slightly lower than the net addition of Thailand and Philippines combined, and marginally lower than seventh-ranked Malaysia's first quarter intake." Vietnam, fifth on the list, has added more than two million mobile subscribers during this period, but its total clientele was smaller than what Bangladesh had in the first quarter of 2006.The new 8.945 million GSMA mobile users that have put Bangladesh in the global map is the result of the operators' continuous effort, explained Chowdhury, who was GrameenPhone's marketing director for five years and Banglalink's Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) for nearly a year until resigning recently.
"When the operators made new connections affordable and started slashing the call charges, the government came up with disastrous tax policy last year. It was a bolt from the blue (for the operators) that slowed down the market for a while." The new customers belong to the middle-to-lower income bracket. He said more than two billion people use GSM mobile phones worldwide, accounting for an 82.4 per cent penetration. Asia Pacific region alone boasts 757.13 million GSMA mobile users and the figure is fast growing. "Every second 18 new GSM users are being added worldwide, which means more than 1,000 customers in every minute and over 1.5 million new GSMA mobile users per day." Chowdhury said the next billion GSMA customers are mostly coming from China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh and other similar economies. He recognised continuous investment as the key component for sustainable mobile phone market growth in Bangladesh. More than 85 per cent of the mobile phone users have no access to the largest fixed telephone operator BTTB, the state-owned monopoly, Chowdhury regretted.
A UNESCO-supported Youth Community Multimedia Centre (YCMC) is teaching people in rural areas about the value of community radio, using a combination of theatre and ICT in Sitakund sub-district in Bangladesh. Volunteers of the YCMC recently participated in a ten-day training workshop on 'Forum Theatre'. Forum Theatre uses ICT in the forms of radio, television and telephone to enable live and runtime feedback to be received. This kind of approach makes people more aware of existing local issues and practices; it raises awareness about the lack of access to mainstream media; and it demonstrates how local communities can use community radio and other media to change their society. UNESCO's International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and the International CMC Initiative, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation provided support to the establishment of the community multimedia centre. CMC uses the local cable network for content dissemination, reaching about one thousand households in Sitakund and it has plans to set up loudspeakers directly from the studio. YCMC volunteers will generate locally-relevant content in the local language (Bangla) daily for one and half hours.
Manila, Philippines - A US$24.6 million loan aims to improve urban infrastructure facilities and basic urban services in Thimphu and Phuentsholing, Bhutan＊s two largest cities, as well as in Dagana, a regional center. Urban settlement is a new phenomenon in Bhutan. But the quickening pace of urbanization in the last 15-20 years is already putting pressure on the country's cities. The 4.1% unemployment rate in urban areas, for instance, is much higher than the countrywide rate of 2-3%. Thimphu and Phuentsholing face the full force of urban migration and urban sprawl, as a result of limited job opportunities in rural areas. One result is that the expansion urban infrastructure is not keeping up with demand, for instance in the area of water coverage. Dagana, meanwhile, faces water shortages at times during the year and lack of water treatment facilities and intermittent flows pose a public health risk. In Thimphu, the project will develop a new water supply system, upgrade a wastewater treatment plant, and improve solid waste management infrastructure. Local urban infrastructure, such as secondary roads, tertiary water distribution pipes, drainage, and sewerage, will also be provided in four new areas in the southern part of the city. In Phuentsholing, roads and drainage, footpaths and a pedestrian bridge, and social infrastructure such as fire hydrants and street lighting will be provided.
Dagana, located in the same geographical corridor as the two project cities, is one of 20 regional centers that is yet unassisted by external aid. Under the project, water supply sources will be augmented, and the treatment and distribution system as well as sanitation will be improved, and roads and drainage upgraded. ※ADB's past assistance in the capital Thimphu and commercial center of Phuentsholing has been well received,§ says Tomoo Ueda, an ADB Urban Development and Planning Specialist. ※By further improving health and general living standards, the project will boost the growth potential of these three areas and assist the Government's drive toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals targets.§ About 55,000 people will directly benefit from improved urban infrastructure, while around 19,000 in poor areas will benefit from improved water supply and sanitation. The project will also help increase awareness in the communities of proper hygiene, and boost management of urban facilities by government agencies. ADB's loan, which covers 80% of the project's total estimated cost of $30.75 million equivalent, comes from its concessional Asian Development Fund. It carries a 32-year term, including a grace period of 8 years, with interest charged at the rate of 1% per annum during the grace period and 1.5% per annum after. The Government will finance the $6.15 million balance. The Department of Urban Development and Engineering Services at the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement will serve as the executing agencies for the project, which is due for completion in 2012.
INDIA: Upgrading IT Skills Has Emerged as India＊s Largest E-Learning Implementation Company
The Transport Department of Hyderabad (India) is planning to replace the existing driving licences with `Smart Cards' to ensure tamper proof vehicle documents. The new cards are likely to be introduced within three months in the city. Driving licence with a Smart Card contains the details of fitness, pollution and insurance documents besides personal details of the owner. National Informatics Centre, New Delhi, will provide the necessary software. It contains a memory chip that will prevent vehicle owners from giving false addresses and resorting to forgery of documents. The details of number of cases booked under the Motor Vehicle Act against a motorist by officials of the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) will also be included in the chip. Any data of the cardholder can be obtained by swiping it to a handheld reader.
For the first time in the country, in a significant e-Governance initiative, the Commercial Taxes Department of Chhattisgarh has launched the facility for trade and industry for filing 'online＊ returns as well as taxes like Value Added Tax (VAT), Central Sales Tax and Entry tax through e-Return and e-Challan. Finance secretary DS Mishra told Hindustan Times that Chhattisgarh is the first state in the country to introduce 'online e-returns facility'. Chief minister Raman Singh, while inaugurating the facility in Raipur, expressed hope this will boost investor confidence. The state government now plans to extend e-challan facility to all sectors of the Government revenue including mining, excise and transport. It expects that 60 per cent of the tax revenue would be collected through this mode by the end of current fiscal.
Community Channel website is launching a social networking area, YourCharitySpace, on its website www.communitychannel.org from Monday, October 16th. To celebrate the launch, Community Channel and CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) have teamed up for National Giving Week (October 16-22, 2006), allowing people to win ㏒1,000 for their favourite charity in a great new competition. As this year＊s National Giving Week theme is Give it up for＃, the competition asks people to upload a 30-60 second video clip via their camcorder or mobile phone, saying what they＊re prepared to give up for their favourite charity; it could be time, money, possessions, anything they think appropriate! CAF will donate ㏒1000 for the best video clip sent in every day during National Giving Week, with the proceeds going to the winner＊s charity of choice. The ten runners up will have their clips transmitted on Community Channel. The new YourCharitySpace area will allow people to blog about charities and causes they support and feel passionate about. They can upload images and short video clips and comment on other people＊s blogs. YourCharitySpace also includes a new charity donation facility, which the channel is launching in partnership with CAF. It enables users to tap into CAF＊s extensive database of UK registered charities. Community Channel＊s Head of New Media, Wendy Stewart, said: ※We＊re very excited about YourCharitySpace and feel confident that it will become a popular meeting place for individuals and organizations working in the charity sector. We＊re also delighted to launch a charity donation service where users can donate from anywhere on our site.§ Terry Bryan, National Giving Week Campaign Manager at CAF, commented: ※We＊re delighted to be teaming up with Community Channel for a second consecutive year and am sure that this innovative campaign will encourage people to be creative when it comes to supporting their chosen charity§.
The Finance Minister, Shri P. Chidambaram launched the e-filing of Income Tax returns, here today. With the launching of this facility, taxpayers can now file their returns through the internet on the department＊s web-site http://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in. E-filing has been made mandatory for all corporate taxpayers. They can file their income tax and Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) returns combined in Form No.1. For other taxpayers e-filing is optional. They may e-file their return in Form No.2, Form No.2F, and Form No.3. Those who have filed their income tax returns in any of the above forms, or any other form, may e-file their FBT return in Form No.3B. The tax returns can be e-filed either using digital signature or without digital signature. If the e-filing is without digital signature, the taxpayer will also have to file a paper return. Details regarding which form is to be used by whom, are laid down in Circular No.9/2006 dated 10th October, 2006 issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes, Department of Revenue. The circular is available on the above mentioned website. This e-filing initiative not only propels Indian taxation into the digital era but will also enable the government to interface with the stakeholders more efficiently.
The Committee on implementation of the new reservation policy in higher educational institutions has set to be an emulative role model for campuses of higher education in India. It reiterated on campuses going digital as the way ahead to meet the challenges posed by the age of networked intelligence. Interactive learning with computers, had literally changed the learning paradigm from linear to hypermedia learning, from instruction to construction and discovery, teacher-centric to student-centric. Accordingly mind frame of the learning community should venture into broader horizons. The national project for technology-enhanced learning (NP-TEL), was implemented jointly by the seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc.). Funded by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, the programme is geared to enhance the quality of engineering education by developing over 300 curriculum-based video and web courses across the country.
Microsoft India has entered into a partnership with Hughes to create a self-sustaining IT infrastructure in rural areas by deploying broadband enabled ICT kiosks in about 200 towns and villages across the country. The company will roll out about 5,000 such kiosks, which will be operated on a franchisee model and enable new entrepreneurs across the rural landscape to use technology for e-Commerce, education and e-Governance. It will lead to better communication and access to information through all round connectivity and offer people a platform to acquire skills sets, undertake e-Literacy programmes for ordinary citizens. Microsoft, as part of its rural computing initiative 'Project Saksham', will work with Hughes to set up the ICT kiosks across blocks, talluqas and villages. Microsoft aimed to drive technology access at the grass root level to enable socio economic development of rural communities, Microsoft Head - Rural Computing Tarun Malik said. Hughes India CEO and President Pranav Roach said, the ITC kiosks would not only provide a platform for exchange of information and knowledge but also serve as a platform to create over 15,000 jobs and self-employment opportunities.
From a bench in Cannaught place central park, or a spot overlooking Palika Bazar, or while sipping coffee in any restaurant, Delhi residents will be able to access the Internet through a wireless -- and cost free -每 Delhi government network. Delhi information technology (IT) secretary, Dr G. Narender Kumar, speaking at a three-day 'South Asia e-Government Summit' organised jointly by the department of information technology, government of India, by the society for promotion of e-governance (SPEG), said that by January 2007 Delhi's Cannaught place will have free Wi-Fi (wireless) Internet services as part of Delhi Government's plan to make the capital Wi-Fi-enabled. "After gauging its success in Cannaught place, it will be introduced in major areas of Delhi, including Delhi Haat, Greater Kailash, Nehru Place and other business and tourist attraction places. Apart from providing normal Internet services it will also help the local business grow," said Dr. Kumar. "This will also help in offering access information of businesss establishments of the area, hotels, restaurants, education, health care and jobs.
The broadband internet facility is being developed and implemented with help of three private sector IT companies, the broadband wireless network, which uses a technology called Wi-Fi, meaning wireless fidelity," Dr Kumar said. He said, "World over local administrations are trying to develop their own wireless network for benefit of citizens and provide them citicentric services. The wireless network takes advantage of fiber-optic cables that the city has already laid under its streets and connected to every area." Vikas Kunango, chairman of the e-Governance summit, said, "To access a wireless Internet service, a computer must be equipped with wireless technology. In the target area, the city system - which will be up and running - will appear as one of the networks available."
Oct. 31--NEW DELHI -- Five months after TOI first reported the HRD ministry's plan to set up a one-stop education portal for 50 crore users in all fields of study, including vocational education, Sakshat (be a lamp unto yourself) will be formally launched as a pilot scheme on Monday by President A P J Abdul Kalam. As a bonus for the education sector, the University Grants Commission has also accepted HRD ministry's proposal to give broadband connectivity to nearly five lakh college teachers of central and state universities. The exercise would cost UGC nearly Rs 40 crore. As for teachers of private colleges, it has been decided to set up a regulatory mechanism before extending such facilities to them. At the same time, UGC will help college teachers in acquiring computers by getting them cheap bank loans. At a select preview of the portal on Sunday, education secretary Sudeep Banerjee said an initiative of this kind had never been taken before. Joint secretary N K Sinha, whom Banerjee called the soul behind the portal, made a presentation on 'Sakshat' and said it was aimed at tapping the country's talent and would address all education and learning related needs of students, scholars, teachers and lifelong learners.
By next year, the portal would be accessible to students in 700 cities. With content developed by UGC, AICTE, IGNOU, NCERT, KVS, NVS, CBSE, IITs and IISc, 'Sakshat' will provide links to vast knowledge resources, educational news, examination alerts, sample papers and other useful links available on the web. It has an in-built repository of educational resources and online testing facility. The portal has five functional modules. One, educational resources consisting of e-books, e-journals, digital repository and digital library. Two, scholarship which is specially meant for scholarship holders at national and state levels to keep track of their progress and keep them informed about other scholarship opportunities. Three, testing to enable learners to test and upgrade their skills and knowledge through online exams. Four, superachiever for those aspiring for excellence. Links to various Olympiads would be provided. Five, interaction. This would help students to interact with their teachers or mentors in real time through e-mail, weblogging, webcasting, online chat and discussion forum. Apart from all these, the portal will also have an in-built virtual class system. To see more of The Times of India, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com Copyright (c) 2006, The Times of India Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News. For reprints, email email@example.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.
Several anti-poverty schemes are struggling to take off, thanks to the non-existence of IT infrastructure at the Panchayat and block level Who could you blame for the failure of various welfare schemes meant for alleviating rural poverty? Most people are not likely to site weak tech infrastructure, but it seems to be emerging as one of the main hurdles. Step into any block development office and you are likely to see officers pouring over reams of paper, recording and sending data to their district headquarters. While some officers at block level feel lucky to have computers to help them do number crunching and transmit data, many still have a long wait for PCs and then software to run it. Take the much-touted National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NRGEA), for instance. If you were to visit the block development office of Ilambazar in Birbhum district in West Bengal, you will see officers like Sunil Bhattacharya working through sheaf of papers jotting numbers in rows and columns. In another block in the same district, Biwajit Mukherjee, sub assistant engineer, block planning is doing number crunching job to fill up the monthly and fortnightly progress and monitoring report. ※We have to maintain a detailed record of 25,309 families who have got the job card out of 29,703 families in my block. The data comes in raw format from the Panchayat level and we have to compile and key in the data for 35 rows of information for NREGA and we are supervising five such programmes for nine gram panchayats,§ explains Sunil Bhattacharya.
He should consider himself lucky, despite his tale of woes. His block has a data entry operator, which not every block can boast of. Even those who have computers are awaiting the software from NIC. ※Unless we start putting the information on the network from the Panchayat level, I don＊t think we would be able to make use of the loads of information we are getting for future,§ he says. Loads of data needs to be recorded for programmes like NREGA - details of the name of the family members willing to work, address, social and economic status, date of application, job card number, kind of manual job allotted, number of days worked, unemployment benefits and cumulative expenditure. A typical Panchayat would do this through pen and paper. The data sheets then travel to the block office before being entered into the stand-alone computers. Then the data travels to the respective departments of the state capital in printed formats, in CDs or in floppies. The work would be much simpler and less taxing even if we had basic networks and IT infrastructure at the Panchayat and block level and many more rural welfare schemes would take-off. ※It＊s not that without computers you can＊t do all these, but it makes the entire work process time consuming, inefficient and ineffective,§ sums up West Bengal state informatics officer, Subir Roy.
Surprisingly, there seems to be no lack of funding. Money is not an issue to put technology in place in rural areas, says Ranjit Kumar Maiti, a joint secretary in Panchayat and Rural Development Department. ※From national e-governance plan to various agencies, there are different sources to get resources to put connectivity and applications in place. The issue is planning, right capacity building and proper execution in a holistic manner,§ says Maiti. He insists that it would be difficult to create the right kind of implementation environment without IT infrastructure in place. Already, quite a few anti-poverty schemes like NREGA programme have been plagued with allegations of mismanagement and partisanship like any other anti-poverty schemes. Implementation of e-governance in rural administration, to many, is like introduction of railway reservation system years ago that brought transparency and reduction in back-door manipulation. Insiders feel that solution is in making the entry at Panchayat level in a web-based software and saving it in a central server and then connecting the entire work process to a number that is recorded. For many in the state government department, implementation of e-governance in the rural administration would have the same effect like the introduction of railway reservation system years ago in terms of transparency and reduction in back-door manipulation.
Each entry in a web-based software would be saved in a central server and the entire work process connected to that number would be recorded, suggest Roy. Says Tapan Karmakar, Block Development Officer of Bhangar II, ※The technology has the power to substantially reduce the allegation that the target group is not receiving the benefits.§ You can already see silver lining like Gram Panchayat Management System Software from the Panchayat and rural development department that＊s running in 228 gram Panchayats. The software has applications like account ser vices, birth and death registration, data of below poverty line people and trade licenses. And then, different schemes have their format and it＊s not always possible to tweak the application according to the scheme. The right formula seems to be a fixed format for all the welfare schemes from the Centre and a statewide network with required application to store the required information. A look at the success of few digital experiments and the national e-governance plan and you know that a wave of digital change could go a long way in transforming India. Autor(en)/Author(s): Indranil Chakraborty
A public debate is raging on the contribution of the Information Communication and Technologies (ICT) sector to Karnataka＊s economy. This has snowballed into a war of words and numbers without a credible account of the sector's role in the overall regional economic development. This is due to the fact that, in spite of the remarkable economic performance of the ICT sector, there are no estimates on its explicit contribution to the state or national income in India. Recent economic research at the Institute for Social and Economic Change in Bangalore estimates the size and share of the ICT sector in Karnataka's State income. It uses official data on manufacturing and services in this sector, and achieves a separate estimate on its contribution since 1994-95. The estimate throws light on the contribution and competitive performance of this sector. The ICT services contribute to 4.15 per cent of the total State income, and 8.39 per cent of the State income from the tertiary sector. On the registered manufacturing side, it contributes to 12.44 per cent of the State income. The State's ICT services contribute 8.01 per cent and ICT manufacturing contributes 15.23 per cent in the nation's total.
The average growth of the ICT services in State income is equal to 20.27 per cent and that of manufacturing ICT is equal to 10.39. The State's performance is higher than the national level, as the average growth of ICT services in national income is equal to 17.04 per cent, and the manufacturing ICT is equal to 0.65 per cent. More importantly, the combined contribution of the manufacturing ICT industries and services to the total State income is equal to 5.25, which is higher than the national level (4.87 per cent). Karnataka is the first state to announce a separate policy for promotion and development of information technology in the State (i.e. Information Technology Policy, 1997). The State announced a Millennium IT Policy in 2000 to extend ICT applications to social, economic, and cultural developments in the State. Besides the growth of the external market demand, historical development and the cluster of electrical and electronics industries, existence of a large potential domestic demand, and accumulation of a large pool of highly skilled, communicative, low cost technical manpower, the best of corporate management and strategies of companies, have been the driving factors in the growth of this sector largely in Bangalore.
For instance, about 97 per cent of software companies and exports in the State is from Bangalore. The ICT goods and services typically constitute between three and five per cent of the national income in OECD countries, and less than four perc ent in Australia. By way of comparison to these estimates, the performance of Karnataka's ICT sector is higher than that of Australia＊s, and the average for OECD countries. In reality, the sector should get kudos for its globally competitive performance in export trade and significant contribution to the State's economic development. The sector can be expected to contribute more, provided its required infrastructure, and improvement in business and investment climate, get a positive response by all levels of the government in the Indian federation. It is gratifying to know that the Draft Master Plan 2015 for the Bangalore Metropolitan Area has recognised the importance of ICT by recommending earmarking of land under a high tech zone and 3,75,000 new jobs by 2015. This recognition will be a boost to the ICT sector, and to ICT-driven growth in Bangalore in particular and the State in general. ( by M R Narayana )
In the National ICT Week, two conferences, SEARCC 2006 and IITC 2006, the Infotel Lanka Exhibition and a host of other events are going to be organised by the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka and others. H.E. the President Mahinda Rajapaksa obtained Cabinet approval to declare the period 9th to 15th October as the National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Week in response to the request of the ICTA, Sri Lanka. It will emphasize the government's commitment towards supporting ICT. The ICT week will start with signing of the award of contract for the US$15M LakGovNet project sponsored by the Korean Government which will equip and digitally connect a large number of Divisional Secretariats, Ministries and key government departments to each other to interchange information as well as to provide ICT based citizen services. This would be followed by a seminar for Secretaries of Ministries on capitalising on the government ICT infrastructure which is being established by ICTA. The annual industry focused ICT conference of the South East Asia Regional Computer Confederation (SEARCC) are scheduled to be held on 10th and 11th on theme is 'Value Creation in the Modern Economy'. The 8th International IT Conference on the theme 'Innovations for a Knowledge Economy' is scheduled to be held on the 12th and 13th.
LAHORE: The government of Punjab has decided to install cell phone jamming devices in all the prisons across the province. I.G. Punjab prisons, Sarfaraz Mufti told Geo News that the cell phone jammer would be installed in all the 28 prisons of the province with an outlay of about Rs70 million. He told that the influential prisoners in collusion with the jail management use cellular phones and, therefore, it has been decided to set up regular control rooms for the operation of jammers in the jails by trained staff. It may be recalled that the department of prisons had launched an operation against the use of cell phones in jails sometimes ago.
In 1997 Mahabir Pun set out to provide Internet access to the students of Himachal High School. The teachers and students of Billanook College gifted him with a few old computers. His aim was to enable the students communicate with each other using email. This simple dream changed the way of life for a number of people living in small villages. In 2003 a student in Los Angeles got a grant from the Donald Strauss Foundation, which helped make this dream a reality. The World Bank recently granted $20,000 to extend and improve the existing network. Nepal＊s largest Internet Service Provider, World-Link has helped build infrastructure. The current network currently provides a reliable Internet and telephone infrastructure to 19 villages deep in the Himalayas. The next phase will increase this number to 22 villages. The villagers use this network to exchange ideas and communicate using message boards. Students use this network to find reference material related to their curriculum.
Local artists, farmers and other traders use a e-commerce solution to sell their products online. The project generates revenue by setting up cyber cafes in villages that are of tourist attraction. The villages that are located in remote areas of the Himalayas can access telephones using free software such as Asterisk. This is also one of the few places that tele-medicine works. The tele-center in every village can have a videoconference with doctors in Pokhara. Like all projects this project too does have its own set of problems. The biggest challenge the project faces is to operate in the absence of a wireless law. This means that the network they are running is illegal. They have been trying to obtain a license for over a year, but the government keeps refusing to grant them one. Because of this there can be no wireless equipment sold in Nepal. The team is currently lobbying to delicense the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands in Nepal. After a number of presentations and talks the government has finally decided to delicense the required bands and make VoIP free in Nepal.
If we build cool and cheap devices would rural communities use them? Would US$100 laptop make a difference in their lives? Can we increase the usage of computers in rural societies from nearly zero to over 50% in the coming 10 years? These are some of the questions being pondered by the world leaders and technologists. There have been many buzz words and slogans in the past. Including the other much hyped US$30 mobile phone. But little does anyone realize that such slogans and targets are nothing but marketing gimmicks. These are to attract large donors to fund schemes of no consequence. It is quite clear that the mobile phone revolution has swept the world without the need for US$30 hand-sets. Kenya, Pakistan, India and many other countries are seeing unbelieveable growth rates without the introduction of any cheap mobile phone sets. Hailing from Pakistan, I have eye witnessed the revolution taking the country by storm. It is amazing to see that Pakistan is adding over 2 million new subscribers each month (source Pak Telecom Authority www.pta.gov.pk). The tele-density in Pakistan stood at 0.28% in 2000. In less than six years, it stands at over 17% with over 30 million mobile users (as of June 06). The number is likely to double by mid next year to over 50 million users in the country. That is a phenomenal growth rate i.e. almost 100% annually.
And the most remarkable thing for Pakistan, the 6th most populous country in the world, is that one in three in the country would carry a cell phone by June 2007. That is an extremely large number of users by any definition of mobile usage for any developing country. Yes, last year, Pakistan was the second fastest growing mobile market after China. This year, the trend is likely to hold again. This is similar in other developing economies as well. All this revolution without the need for US$30 mobile set. How come? The answer is simple. Used and refurbished mobiles. They can be found on the streets for as little as US$5 to US$20. They work great and are from branded manufacturers. Therefore, the need to build cheap mobiles is moot. People tend to always go for used items. They still buy branded sets like Nokia and others at a fraction of the cost of the brand new model. And even if we make the new sets cheaper, they would only go and buy the used versions at even cheaper prices for their personal use. Therefore, the idea and concept of US$100 laptops, US$30 mobile phones and connecting half the world to the Internet within a decade are nothing but academic and are detached from reality.
Federal Minister for IT and Telecom, Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari said on Friday the country was expected to have more than 1.5 million broadband users by 2010, and Wi-Max - the latest wireless technology - would prove to be the driving force behind this revolution. The minister stated this following signing of a contract between Wateen Telecom and Motorola for deployment of Wi-Max network in Pakistan, a statement said. Wateen Telecom, a subsidiary of Warid Telecom, and Motorola have signed the contract worth $60 million for the deployment of Wi-Max network in the length and breadth of Pakistan. After the implementation of the project, Pakistan will become the first country in the world to have 802.16e Wi-Max technology for wireless local loop application serving residential and corporate customers for data and voice alike at unprecedented rates. ※The contract reflects on Pakistan＊s improved image in the world as one of the serious and high-growth markets, ahead of anyone else including India,§ the statement quoted the minister as saying. He said it was encouraging to note this was the first ever commercial contract for nationwide Wi-Max deployment in the world, making it a historical milestone for Pakistan＊s ICT (information and communication technologies) sector, he said. The minister reiterated the government＊s support for the proliferation of broadband services in the country.
※The government is making all-out efforts to encourage initiatives aimed at broadband penetration and national ＆Broadband Pakistan＊ programme is a major step in connecting the unconnected and bridging the digital divide,§ he said. The Wi-Max technology uses IMS (Internet Protocol Multimedia System) core architecture, making it the first 4th Generation network. The initial deployment of the wireless broadband voice and data network will be completed by the end of the year using Motorola＊s access network, subscriber units, IP multimedia sub-system core and services based on the 802.16e mobile Wi-Max standard. Motorola＊s carrier-class Wi-Max network supports both the 2.5GHz and 3.5GHz frequency spectrums and uses special antenna techniques to provide greater coverage range and penetration.
The massive popularity of wireless networking across the globe has caused computer equipment costs to continually plummet, while equipment capabilities continue to increase. By applying wireless networking technology in rural areas in Pakistan that are badly in need of critical communications infrastructure, more people can be brought online than ever before, in less time and for very little cost. These were the objectives of the recently held P@SHA Wireless Rural Connectivity Conference and Hands-on Workshop Nov 15-16, 2006 held in Lahore at Holiday Inn Hotel by P@SHA (Pakistan Software Houses Association), Punjab Information Technology Board, Cisco Systems Inc, Intel Inc, Ministry of IT&T, FOSSFP: Free and Open Source Software Foundation of Pakistan and BytesForAll Network South Asia. (Conference Report- P@SHA Wireless Rural Connectivity Conference and Hands-on Workshop Nov 15-16, 2006, Lahore Pakistan)
Advisor to Sindh Chief Minister for Information Technology Noman Saigal, on Tuesday disclosed that the Sindh government has planned to develop an ＆Internet Media City＊ in Karachi to promote information technology and media in the metropolis. Addressing a press conference, he said the ＆Internet Media City＊ would cover almost 200 acres of land and it would be developed on lines with Dubai Media City. Saigal informed that the Sindh government was working on e-policing project, in which more than 400 police stations of Karachi would be computerised in the first phase. Through this project, recovery of stolen cars and other vehicles could be made easier, he added. Saigal said that this project would be connected with FM radio, which will not only guide citizens to ensure smooth flow of vehicular traffic but also provide them with healthy entertainment. The records of cases in all the courts would be computerised too. Regarding the ongoing IT projects in interior Sindh, he underlined that the government would not ignore the villages of the province. A project named ＆e-government in Sukkur＊ is being developed at a cost of Rs30 million. He further said that one of the biggest projects of the Sindh government is its work on video conferencing concept. About the establishment of data centres, he said that a large number of data record centres would be established, so that every type of record could be seen on computers. To check cyber crimes, he said that there were gaps between the orders and execution. ※To control obscene websites in cyber cafes, the government will work with FIA§, he added.
New safeguards to protect consumers from inappropriate or harmful material delivered over 3G mobile phones and similar devices will go a long way to protecting children from incidents such as those reported in today＊s Daily Telegraph, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, said today. ※However, while the Government will take every measure possible to protect children using new technologies, parents and educators must remain ever vigilant to ensure children are safe,§ Senator Coonan said. ※Like the Internet, increasingly sophisticated hardware such as mobile phones can be a vital communications tool, but in inexperienced hands they can become a pipeline for perversion. ※Recognising the challenge that next generation mobile phones pose for regulating content which may be offensive or illegal, I will shortly put in place new safeguards to protect consumers when they are using 3G mobile phones and subscription based Internet portals.
※I will soon introduce to Parliament legislation to extend the current safeguards that apply to content delivered over the Internet or television to content delivered over convergent devices such as mobile phones. ※This will include prohibition of content rated X18+ and above, as well as requirements for consumer advice and age-restrictions on access to content suited only to adults. These prohibitions will be backed by strong sanctions for non-compliance with the new regulatory framework, including criminal penalties for serious offences. ※To complement these measures the Government also recently announced the $116.6 million Protecting Australian Families Online package which, among other measures, will provide every Australian family with a free Internet filter or a filtered service on their home computer. ※There will also be a comprehensive information campaign to help educate parents about how best to keep their children safe when using the Internet and technologies such as 3G mobile phones. ※These initiatives show how seriously this Government takes the issue of protecting children from inappropriate and offensive content and helping parents to understand and deal with these devices in the hands of their children.
A LIMITED trial of electronic voting for blind and vision-impaired Australians must include special booths in rural areas as well as major cities, according to Blind Citizens Australia executives. The booths must be well-lit, have adequate large-print and braille signage and be easily accessible for blind and vision-impaired people, executive officer Nadia Mattiazzo said. "We are happy to see even a limited trial go ahead, but there are a number of things we need to be vigilant about," she said. The Howard Government announced last month it would test electronically assisted voting for blind and vision-impaired people at the next federal election. Technology will be used to allow about 150,000 people to vote unassisted for the first time at a federal election, but only at 30 polling booths across the country. If the trial is successful it could be extended at the 2010 election. It is anticipated blind and vision-impaired people will use headphones, a voice-prompted software program and a braille keyboard to cast their vote. The vote will be reviewed and printed so it can be physically lodged in the ballot box.
The Australian Electoral Commission, which will conduct the trial, said it was too early to make comment on how the system would work. Legislation to allow for the voting changes will be drafted in coming months. Disability groups will meet the commission this month to discuss the details of the project, including the best location of the special booths. Ms Mattiazzo warned against positioning the booths in back rooms in major cities. "There must be polling booths in rural areas to ensure fair access to the system, and they must all be located in central areas close to public transport, in areas people would be familiar with," she said. "There must be adequate lighting for those who do have some vision." Blind Citizens Australia president Robert Altamore said there must also be an "easy path of travel" to the ballot box itself. Voters must have advance knowledge of their new electronic option so they can build up the confidence required to try the new method of voting, he said. "We will work with the Electoral Commission to ensure security and trust in the system," Mr Altamore said. "Despite the short time in which we have to work, we are confident it can be done in time for the next election."
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, today announced more than $700,000 in funding to improve the reliability of the ABC＊s Victorian television content. This funding will improve the reliability of ABC television by upgrading current program feed arrangements for 12 regional Victorian ABC analogue television transmission sites. ※The upgrade will give an estimated 1.3 million viewers in regional Victoria consistent and more reliable access to the ABC＊s Victorian television content,§ Senator Coonan said. The 12 transmission sites previously received analogue television signals from one of two satellites, but at certain times it was necessary to switch between the two satellites to give viewers relevant Victorian content. The 12 sites now receive the ABC＊s Victorian digital television signal from one satellite, and translate this to analogue for broadcast to homes, improving the reliability of the transmission. These 12 sites in turn provide the input signal for the remaining ABC television transmission sites in regional Victoria. This means that all viewers of ABC Regional Victorian television will benefit from the upgrade.
Take-up for broadband services continues to increase, according to the latest Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Snapshot of Broadband Deployment, issued today. "The report shows that in the quarter ending at 30 June 2006, there were 3,518,100 broadband services connected across Australia", ACCC Commissioner, Mr Ed Willett, said. "Once again, this represents an increase of over one million customers, or 67 per cent, over the preceding 12-month period, and continues a trend observed since June 2005. "However, as we would expect, the percentage growth of broadband take-up has declined given the increase of the total subscriber base in absolute terms". Total quarterly growth in broadband was about 11 per cent for the June quarter. This is down from the March 2006 growth (about 14 per cent). While DSL-based services remain the most popular type of broadband adopted by Australians, increased take-up was observed across all other forms of broadband measured in the June quarter, including cable, satellite, and wireless.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) yesterday registered a code which will require the manufacturers or importers of all phones to advise telecommunications companies of features which will make them more accessible for people with disabilities. "I congratulate ACMA for this initiative," said Graeme Innes, Commissioner responsible for disability discrimination. "This code will ensure that people with various disabilities maximise their chances to use the telephone system," he said. If a phone has larger print on the screen, buttons that are easier to locate by feel, or a vibrate mode which would indicate to a deaf person that a message has arrived, the manufacturers or importers will be required to advise the telecommunications companies. This will mean that when people with particular disabilities are choosing which phone to buy, such features can be pointed out. "The fast advances in technology are a challenge to many Australians, and it is pleasing that this code will make selection of phones less of a challenge for Australians with disabilities," Commissioner Innes said. "I encourage ACMA to continue to recognise the disadvantage in the area of communications faced by many Australians with disabilities, and redress it where possible."
AUSTRALIA'S media regulator has denied The Australian access to the advice it gave a federal Government department to help determine what new media services should feature on our spare digital television channels. The Australian Communications and Media Authority provided a report to the Government in June outlining community opinions on what new services could be offered. It had sought public comments on the issue in March, and more than 20 submissions became publicly available on ACMA's website. "The response to this paper will assist the Government in making decisions about the possible use and allocation of the two unassigned TV channels," says the ACMA paper, which is titled Unassigned Television Channels. But TV viewers will never know if any of their suggestions were considered worthy after ACMA rejected The Australian's freedom-of-information request for the report. That is despite the Government's stance that new services are critical to ensuring diversity of media opinion and ownership. Communications Minister Helen Coonan has said she will not proclaim the removal of cross-media and foreign ownership restrictions until development of the new services is "well advanced". Suggestions revealed publicly for the use of the channels included internet access through digital TVs, an indigenous TV channel, a fourth free-to-air TV network and mobile TV services. The Government agreed to introduce mobile TV services on what it has described as Channel B, but opted against the other services, including a fourth TV network. Instead, Channel A has been reserved for narrowcasting, datacasting and community TV. The Australian's request for the report was denied by ACMA executive Giles Tanner. ACMA argued the report was exempt from the FOI process as it was an internal working document, it attracted legal professional privilege, it included confidential information, and it may disclose the "commercial or financial affairs of an organisation".
AUSTRALIA'S competition watchdog has warned telcos racing to offer high-speed internet access not to mislead consumers with false claims about service speeds. The head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Graeme Samuel issued the warning after an address at a business lunch in Melbourne. "We are just saying to all the telecommunications companies just be careful, you may be overstepping the mark in terms of misleading and deceptive conduct," Mr Samuel said. He highlighted companies offering ADSL internet access with potential speeds of 24Mbps, to warn that these speeds are largely unachievable. He said companies should make it clear the speeds were "up to" 24Mbps, depending on distance from the exchange and line congestion. "It's when consumers turn around and say 'Hey, look, that's not what we expected. We expected something much better than that. We expected higher quality service', and they believe they have been misled. "Frankly, we have a concern because that is the benchmark that we use. What does the reasonable consumer honestly believe they are getting?" he said. Mr Samuel said the ACCC had been communicating with telcos about the problem, and he wanted to see realistic broadband speeds made clear in advertisements.
"They are all having a big race at the moment to try and demonstrate that they have got the higher speed services that are potentially available, so when they get into that competitive race they sometimes tend to forget that there is a fundamental requirement, which is not to mislead or deceive," he said. With a possible shake-up of Australian media in the lead-up to new laws taking effect next year, Mr Samuel also talked about the need for competition in the media industry. He said the ACCC could not guarantee media diversity, but would assess if reduced diversity from media mergers also led to less competition. "Competition is directed towards ensuring that as far as possible ... it is the demands and preferences of consumers that are the drivers. Not the views of legislators, media proprietors or content producers ... Competition is about empowering consumers," he said.
The number of people who go online for political news is rising, with more than one-third saying they check the Internet for such information. This group is more likely to be younger, better educated and male than the population in general, an Associated Press-AOL News poll found. While 35 percent say they check the Internet for political updates about campaigns and candidates, that number grows to 43 percent of likely voters _ and they tend to be more liberal than conservative. With the Nov. 7 elections nearing, the online audience is getting deluged with e-mail and election updates from news, campaign and political Web sites. People who use the Web point to the convenience, the variety of information and the range of intense emotion available online. "I look on the Internet fairly frequently," said Pim Friedhoff, an independent from Newport, Ky. He describes himself as a conservative and spends about an hour a day on the Web. "I look everywhere _ newspaper sites, online magazines, candidate's Web sites," he said. "I look at a lot of voting records. It matters to me, and I hate liars." The most popular destinations are the news sites, such as those run by newspapers, networks and newsmagazines, with nine of 10 in the online political audience saying they go there.
Just over one-third go to candidate's sites and almost half check out political sites. The poll found: _four in 10 men search the Web for political news, compared with three in 10 women. _about four in 10 of those under age 50 search the Web for political news, compared with fewer than two in 10 of those 65 and over. _more than half of those with college degrees look to the Web for politics, compared with one-third of those who have some college, and fewer than one in six with a high school education or less. For independent Laurie Mottle of Danielson, Conn., the political sites offer an outlet for her growing anger at the Bush administration. "There are things you see on the Web that you don't see anywhere else," said Mottle, who looks for sites that share her point of view. While online browsers go to a wide variety of sites, they overwhelmingly are more inclined to believe what they see on the newspaper and network news sites. Seven in 10 said such sites run by news organizations are the most trustworthy, according to the poll of 2,000 adults and 699 online political browsers. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 4 percent for online political browsers.
The number who go online has grown from about one-quarter in this country six years ago, according to findings in 2000 from the Pew Research centre for the People & the Press. Fewer than half of those who go online are regular users of the Web for political news. For all the noise made by the political bloggers, a relatively small slice of the population is contributing to the blogs, an online journal or newsletter, and chats. Only one in 10 of those who browse online for politics participate in the blogs _ though more than twice that many check them out. Chuck Gerlach, a Republican-leaning businessman from Alpharetta, Ga., likes to check out both the news sites and the blogs for political updates. "You tend to get both sides of the story just reading blogs," he said. One reason for the popularity of the Web to monitor politics is convenience. "I check out political news online because I can get the news right then," said Alan Kirby, a high school teacher and political independent from St. Louis.
CORPORATE telecommunications provider PowerTel has launched its ADSL2+ broadband service ahead of schedule, increasing pressure on Telstra to lift speed caps on its copper network. PowerTel, which shares its network with Perth internet service provider iiNet, began its service yesterday, accelerating its broadband from a maximum of 1.5Mbps to 24Mbps. Those are peak theoretical speeds. Users of ADSL2+ report real-world broadband speeds between 8Mbps and 17Mbps. Perth ISP WestNet has signed on to resell PowerTel's ADSL2+ service to its 115,000 residential broadband subscribers. PowerTel sales director Nick Saphin said the carrier hadn't expected to begin offering ADSL2+ until mid-November, when it was scheduled to finish integrating its ordering system with that of iiNet. "The integration with iiNet was scheduled for mid-November but you can already order from PowerTel," Mr Saphin said. PowerTel entered an exclusive wholesale broadband access agreement with iiNet earlier this year after it took a 19 per cent stake in the service provider. PowerTel and iiNet offer ADSL2+ from a shared national network of 289 exchanges in metropolitan areas. PowerTel managing director Paul Broad said consumer movie downloads and video sharing services were driving demand for faster internet access. Telstra has said that a large portion of its copper network supports ADSL2+ services, but it has resisted pressure from wholesale customers and the Government to make the faster broadband service available.
Earlier this month, the carrier said it was planning a limited commercial launch of its ADSL2+ service by November. A Telstra spokesman declined to provide details of the launch late yesterday. Rivals such as iiNet, Internode, Adam Internet, Optus and Primus Telecom are already selling residential ADSL2+ to consumers. Telstra announced early last year that it would launch ADSL2+ across 400 exchange sites by September 2005, but withdrew that commitment shortly before it announced it would spend $4 billion upgrading its copper network with a fibre-to-the-node rollout that was expected to reach about 50 per cent of households. Earlier this year Telstra cancelled its plan to build the network after failing to reach an agreement with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over access to the network. Speaking at a business forum in Sydney last week, ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said the regulator had no plans to direct Telstra to open its ADSL broadband network to rivals, and repeated the regulator's argument that there was no compelling case for declaration of a wholesale DSL service.
The world just got smaller for software engineers thanks to an innovative Brisbane project which will see teams able to share information safely and securely online, wherever they are in the world. Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane today announced that CVSDude.com, of Brisbane, will receive a $64,000 Commercialising Emerging Technologies (COMET) grant, one of three Queensland companies sharing in over $1.2 million through the latest round of funding. Mr Macfarlane said CVSDude.com provides software development teams with a secure place to store their source code, the ability to maintain version control, and the capacity to manage globally distributed software development. ※Version control is where someone developing software wishes to keep a history of changes and also go back to older versions of their software,§ Mr Macfarlane said. ※It's an effective way of sharing or collaborating with developers world-wide, as each developer can access their source code repository and immediately see or be notified of each other＊s changes to that code.§ Mr Macfarlane said some open-source version control products are often difficult to install, maintain and manage but, with CVSDude.com, customers can be up and running in minutes.
An innovative teaching software platform which automatically adjusts to a student's progress and performance will receive $64,000 to bring the new technology to market. Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane today announced LearningScience Pty Ltd, of Adelaide, was among four South Australian companies sharing in $878,488 through the latest round of Commercialising Emerging Technologies and Commercial Ready funding. Mr Macfarlane said the company had a range of ReadingDoctor software products based on scientific learning to support effective learning. ※The software uses an innovative, self-adjusting ＆scaffolding＊ support system which fades away as the student improves while providing extra focus and re-enforcement of weak areas or skills,§ Mr Macfarlane said. ※It has multiple end-product applications including literacy and numeracy-based programs, language skills development for language-impaired children and adults, English as a second language, and music teaching.§
AUSTRALIANS will have the option of storing any personal information they want on the federal Government's proposed human services smartcard under plans detailed by Human Services Minister Joe Hockey today. Mr Hockey said that up to one-third of the storage space on the access card would be available to card holders, who could use it to store information such as medical requirements or shopping lists. "We are creating a customer controlled area in the chip where individuals can store the information they want. In simple terms it makes the access card similar to a mini-iPod, where you can download minimum amounts of information onto the microchip and carry it around in your wallet or purse," Mr Hockey said. "We're using two-thirds of the capacity on the chip. The other one-third is in the hands of the individual." Mr Hockey said in a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra that the head of the federal Government's Access Card Consumer and Privacy Taskforce, Professor Allan Fels would accept submissions from the public concerning the proposal over the next month. He said that interest in using the card for the provision of services, in addition to welfare transactions, was already high and that the private sector could play a role in storing information that Australians may choose to link to their access card. "This is not the sort of information the government wants to hold," he said in a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra. However, Mr Hockey stressed that the organisations such as banks and police forces would not have powers to demand the card as a form of identification. People could, however, use the card to identify themselves, if they chose.
"Our proposed legislation will prevent the card being required by a bank or other organisation as the only allowable form of identification. People may, however, choose to use the access card to assist in proof of identity at those locations," said Mr Hockey. The federal Government plans to commence the roll out of more than 16.7 million smartcard human services access cards from early 2008. Mr Hockey said the federal Government would issue around 32,000 cards, between 2008 and 2010. Hardware, software and services for the roll-out will be procured in four tranches. Industry will be briefed on the procurement process by the end of the year. "We will seek tenders to enable us to establish a panel of card suppliers. One of these suppliers will also provide card management software for the more than 16.7 million cards," Mr Hockey said. "A systems integrator will be sought to provide and install hardware and proven software that delivers the card customer system and the card operation system. "The tender process for the systems integrator is also likely to include the supply of several thousand digital cameras, printers and scanners and potentially more than 500 booths for card registration." Other tranches include a request for tender (RFT) for 15,000 smartcard terminals for Commonwealth agencies. A list of accredited transaction services providers will also be established. Mr Hockey said the government would seek off-the-shelf technology for the smartcard infrastructure. Potential services providers flying their flags at the National Press Club included IBM, Telstra and the National Australia Bank.
Roughly one in six students enroled in higher education _ about 3.2 million people _ took at least one online course last fall, a sharp increase defying predictions that online learning growth is leveling off. A new report scheduled for released Thursday by The Sloan Consortium, a group of colleges pursuing online programs, estimates that 850,000 more students took online courses in the fall of 2005 than the year before, an increase of nearly 40 percent. Last year, the group had reported slowing growth, prompting speculation the trend had hit a ceiling. "The growth was phenomenal," said Jeff Seaman, Sloan's CIO and survey director, who also serves as co-director of the Babson College survey research group. "It's higher in absolute numbers and higher in percentages than anything we've measured before. And it's across the board," at schools ranging from doctoral institutions to those offering associate's degrees to for-profit colleges. Some online programs have flopped, and several for-profit universities have seen their share prices slump in the last two years amid concern over online's growth prospects. Shares of Apollo Group, which owns the giant for-profit University of Phoenix and is now embroiled in a stock-option scandal, are more than half off their 52-week high. Still, many universities are investing heavily in online learning, hoping the model will prove more economical than traditional classes, thus expanding their reach. A recent survey by Eduventures, a consulting and research firm, found 50 percent of consumers who expected to enrol in a higher education program said they would prefer to get at least some of their instruction online.
About 80 percent of online students are undergraduates, and they are generally older and more likely to be working and have families. But only about half are pursuing online degrees, according to Eduventures. The rest are taking individual online courses or _ increasingly _ mixing online courses with more traditional campus-based classes. One reason online enrolment may be growing is that the difference between traditional and online classes is blurring. It's not unusual now for traditional classes to post syllibi and homework assignments online or to have class discussions in group forums. Some classes take place more than 80 percent online, which makes them count as online courses for the Sloan survey. "That's bumping up enrolment," said Eduventures senior analyst Richard Garrett. The Sloan survey results also suggest academic officials are becoming more comfortable with online learning. About 62 percent of chief academic officers said they felt students learned as well or better from online courses as they did in face-to-face ones. However, that left about 38 percent who found online courses degraded the educational experience. And almost all said they aren't certain online learning will be more widely adopted. Among the obstacles: online courses take more time and effort to prepare, students need more self-discipline, and faculty often aren't convinced online learning is worthwhile. Officials at the schools surveyed "all acknowledge that there are significant barriers," Seaman said. "The question is going to be when do those barriers kick in and how do they cope with them."
Telstra today launched its upgraded national high-speed broadband internet network that is more than 13 times faster than the maximum speed of existing services. BigPond's group managing director Justin Milne says the high speed broadband service will deliver network speeds of either up to eight megabits per second (Mbps) or up to 20Mbps from exchanges offering ADSL2+ services. The new service means a user a could download the movie "Casablanca" in about 10 minutes, the company said. Existing broadband services have maximum speeds of 1.5 Mbps. Regulatory constraints will limit the 20Mbps service to exchanges where competitors are also offering those higher speeds. "Because we've invested shareholder funds heavily in building out our high-speed network, we are now able to offer BigPond customers, across Australia, higher speed ADSL broadband services," Mr Milne said. Mr Milne said BigPond's ADSL-enabled exchanges across Australia would offer more speed in more places, including cities, regional centres and country towns. The new national high-speed broadband network includes more than 2,400 ADSL-enabled exchanges that reach around 91 per cent percent of the population. Telstra has also announced a number of broadband packages for small-to-medium businesses. The packages include the option of using high speed broadband over a dedicated business-only network.
MILLIONS of health and welfare records held on paper by Centrelink and Medicare Australia are likely to be digitised as the federal government rolls out its $1.1 billion Department of Human Services Access Card. The records include copies of birth certificates, driver's licences and telephone and electricity bills used by Australians to prove their identity to government services agencies. Human Services Minister Joe Hockey last week said his department would look at destroying 275km of paper records held by Centrelink and three square kilometres of Medicare records as part of the access card project. However, the government also indicated that it could store electronic copies of all of those records depending on the requirements of the Archives Act, which governs storage of federal records. "Common practice would suggest that agencies would keep an electronic copy," a spokesman for Mr Hockey said when asked if paper records held by Centrelink and Medicare would be digitised. "We are exploring the extent to which records can be digitised or destroyed." Any move to scan and store electronic copies of paper records held by Centrelink, Medicare and other Human Services agencies such as the Child Support Agency would require well over 100 terabytes of storage capacity. The Department of Human Services is also expected to invest heavily in electronic storage technology to store digital photographs of every Australian resident who applies for an Access Card.
EMC Australia product and marketing director Clive Gold said a similar project undertaken by the Public Records Office of Victoria used 11TB of storage to store electronic copies of 44km worth of paper records. That means Centrelink alone would require at least 69TB to store all of its paper-based records. Mr Gold declined to comment on the cost of scanning and storing the millions of paper records held by Centrelink and Medicare. The Department of Human Services is tight-lipped on many specifications for the Access Card project, including how it will register an estimated 32,000 people daily for the card between 2008 and 2010. The government has not left much time for the tender process given the card's rollout schedule, which on a project of this scale is likely to take six to nine months. The government is yet to commit to a timetable for issuing procurement tenders for the Access Card or tabling legislation that will govern every aspect of the card from privacy protection through to uses, allowed and disallowed. Access Card chief technology officer Marie Johnson said the department would issue tenders after a planned industry briefing in December, but the department could not say if the tender documents would be released this year or early in 2007. Mr Hockey last week said tenders would be issued in four tranches, covering smartcard suppliers, a major systems integrator, a smartcard terminal supplier and transaction services providers. "We will seek tenders to enable us to establish a panel of card suppliers, Mr Hockey said. "One of these suppliers will also provide card management software for the more than 16.7 million cards. "A systems integrator will be sought to provide and install hardware and proven software that delivers the card customer and card operation systems. "The tender process for the systems integrator is likely to include the supply of several thousand digital cameras, printers and scanners and more than 500 booths for card registration."
THE private sector has been tagged as a weak link in the chain of security measures around the federal government's planned human services smartcard. Companies have been urged to step up their use of encryption ahead of the launch of the Access Card in 2008. Plans released last week will allow non-government organisations to store data linked to the card. RSA Security Australia and New Zealand manager Mark Pullen said the government was taking access card security "very seriously" but the private sector had work to do to meet the high encryption standards to protect the Access Card. "The commercial world here doesn't really have a grasp on encryption yet, and that's broadly across every commercial organisation that we speak to," he said. "They haven't got a grasp on how to manage cryptography keys, how to implement them quickly, cost-effectively and securely, and I think that's an area that will emerge over the next 36 months." Chris Fendley, general manager of Smartvisit Solutions and former head of the ANZ Bank and Telstra smartcard joint venture, ECard, agreed data would be most at risk during transmission or when stored on corporate or government systems. The encryption levels expected to be applied to the Access Card would make it hard to crack, Mr Fendley said. "You can always break something it's just a matter of how much money you're going to throw at the problem," he said.
Electronic Data Systems global government industry executive Paul Hogie said there was general acceptance that smartcards could protect consumer data. He also backed the private sector's ability to securely store and transmit data. "From the industry point of view there's a high degree of acceptability both from consumers and the industry that the security of the data in the card environment is quite good and very high," Mr Hogie said. Mr Fendley said the durability of smartcards was likely to be a bigger issue than whether or not they could adequately protect sensitive cardholder information. "A smartcard is a computer chip on a bit of plastic in a wallet. If people get it scratched or bent or put it in the washing machine, you're going to be replacing it," he said. Opposition Human Services spokesman Kelvin Thomson last week said the Government expected to replace cards in seven to 10 years. The Department of Human Services is yet to confirm the card's expected lifecycle. Mr Fendley said European institutions that had issued smartcards were replacing them every two to three years.
Technology mad Australians are creating a small mountain of E-waste as they discard their old computers, prompting industry calls for nationwide regulations on recycling and disposal. A new report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows e-waste - discarded computers and electronic goods - is growing three times faster than regular waste as Australians rush to upgrade their computers with new models. Official figures estimate Australia, a country of 20 million people, will have discarded or stockpiled a total of 8.7 million computers by the end of 2006. "It is a hidden problem," the Australian Computer Society's Brenda Aynsley told Reuters on Tuesday. "Nobody really knows the full extent of it." The problem is compounded by the large number of Australians who store their old computers away, hoping one day to find a new use for them. The Bureau of Statistics said Australians buy more than 2.4 million new computers each year. It estimates Australians will replace 9 million computers, 5 million printers and 2 million scanners within the next two years. It said in 2006, 1.6 million computers will be sent to landfill rubbish dumps, while a further 1.8 million would be put in storage, joining 5.3 million old computers already in storage.
With the problem growing, many rubbish dumps refuse to take computers, or charge up to $A30 to take discarded computer equipment. The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), which includes top computer manufacturers and retailers, said industry was working towards more recycling. Some leading companies already recycled old computers, taking the old machines back when a person buys a new one, while a small number of old but working computers are exported. AIIA general manager of strategy James McAdam said industry was pushing for a national approach to computer recycling and was working with manufacturers and retailers, as well as national, state and local governments. "Everybody needs to be involved in a scheme that will be national in scope," McAdam told Reuters. "We're trying to move into a situation where you won't see any more personal computers go into landfill."
NSW government utilities Sydney Water and Hunter Water are facing a combined $17 million in technology project cost blow-outs just three years after Sydney Water was forced to write down a $61 million investment in a botched billing system. The blowouts, which affect a Sydney Water maintenance system and a Hunter Water customer information system, continue a litany of technology project failures at NSW government departments over the past six years. Sydney Water is already pursuing legal action against PricewaterhouseCoopers over the 2003 billing system failure and Integral Energy is suing former supplier EDS over a bungled customer information system project from the late 1990s. A report issued by NSW Auditor General Peter Achterstraat found that Sydney Water had been forced to up the budget for a new field resources management system from $9.3 million to $20.5 million after the project hit problems in March. The completion date of the project has also been pushed out a year from March 2007 to March 2008. According to Mr Achterstraat, the delays and increase in costs were caused by the project＊s scope and complexity, security issues and difficulties integrating the new system with Sydney Water＊s existing IT platforms. The field resources management project will replace existing paper-based and mobile radio systems that are used to manage the scheduling and reporting of Sydney Water maintenance works.
Mr Achterstraat reported Wednesday that Sydney Water is implementing the recommendations of a consultant who was engaged in July to review the troubled project. The recommendations the utility is implementing include replacing staff, supplementing the existing project team with greater expertise and capability and improving management processes. The Auditor General said that the problems affecting the field resources management project were different to those that brought about the failure of Sydney Water＊s $61 million customer information billing system in 2003. Mr Achterstraat also noted that Sydney Water and PricewaterhouseCoopers were preparing evidence for their pending legal battle. "The discovery phase of the litigation is complete and the parties are preparing their evidence. No hearing date has been set. The parties attended a mediation session in May 2006 that was unsuccessful," Mr Achterstraat wrote. "We understand that Sydney Water has incurred significant legal and related costs associated with this litigation." The Auditor General has also uncovered problems with a Hunter Water customer information system project that was originally expected to enter service in July 2005 at a cost of $7.2 million. The implementation is now expected to start this month and the project＊s cost has blown out to $13 million. "The rescheduling of the project related to major issues with data migration, interface development and user acceptance testing," wrote Mr Achterstraat. "Hunter Water further advised that the complexity of this major IT project was originally underestimated, and that other major IT projects completed in 2005-06 were completed on schedule."
Communications Minister Helen Coonan has praised the ABC for using digital technology to spread its programs widely throughout Australia. The ABC's online presence has now extended the reach of its news and current affairs content, Ms Coonan said in singling out the broadcaster in a speech at the Andrew Olle Media Lecture in Sydney. "ABC new media is going from strength to strength and finding new audiences for ABC content and appealing to younger generations with innovative and interactive online content," Ms Coonan said. Her enthusiasm for the direction of the ABC contrasts criticism that has been levelled at the broadcaster by the federal government over bias. In October, the ABC's newly appointed managing director Mark Scott outlined new editorial guidelines designed to tackle perceptions of bias at the national broadcaster. Ms Coonan said the "ultimate digital migrant," Rupert Murdoch, was trying to assert control over new media. "A late arrival to the internet, he has now taken to it with gusto and is setting a trend for takeovers of online communities," Ms Coonan said. "After buying MySpace - which he has described as an extremely effective form of advertising - will he now countenance taking over any new online community that has captured the world's imagination and has advertising potential?" Ms Coonan asked. The minister said barriers to new entrants on the internet were only limited by the imagination - and imagination was in plentiful supply. Media organisations that "play to their strengths" would be the ones that prosper. The internet remained a voluminous addition to traditional media rather than a wholesale replacement of it, Ms Coonan said. "The newspaper can still qualify as a cash cow but the internet is increasingly providing a more flexible, accessible and targeted platform for advertisers, and with advertisers comes the resources to support quality journalism."
The Australian economy is $15.2 billion larger due to Australian Government reforms to liberalise the telecommunications industry, according to an Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) report presented to Parliament today. ※Since the Howard Government deregulated the telecommunications market in 1997, the Australian economy has grown by $15.2 billion, with flow-on effects worth $1.9 billion in terms of household consumption in 2005-06 alone,§ Senator Coonan said. ※More than 17,550 jobs in the telecommunications sector were created in the last financial year alone and new investment of $660 million was also generated. The strong and sustainable economic benefits of telecommunications reform are clear but they are only one part of the communications story in Australia.§ More than 80 per cent of consumers have a mobile phone and there are now 19.7 million mobile phones in Australia. There are more than 5.9 million Internet subscribers and the number of broadband services increased by 82 per cent in 2005每06. Some 85 per cent of households now have access to all free-to-air terrestrial digital television services in their area and digital television receivers are in around 20 per cent of residences.
The number of mobile services grew by 1.3 million in 2005每06, and ACMA recorded a 30 per cent increase in mobile call minutes for the year while the average call costs for mobile phones decreased by 13 per cent. The number of fixed-line services in Australia declined by 1.8 per cent, with 50 per cent of adults aged between 25-35 years reporting that they use their mobile more often than their home phone. 3G mobiles are now used by eight per cent of Australian consumers. ※Broadband take-up continues to boom, with a third of all households now connected to fast Internet. Data downloads increased by 99 per cent during the year, with the average ADSL user downloading more than 18 gigabytes of data in 2005每06,§ Senator Coonan said. In the broadcasting sector, television advertising revenue grew by 2.4 per cent to$3.4 billion, while radio advertising revenue increased by 6.6 per cent to $897 million. The report also notes that the Government＊s introduction of the Spam Act 2003 and successful prosecutions by ACMA have seen Australia drop from 10th to 25th in the ranking of source countries for Internet spam. ※I am extremely pleased by the outcomes contained in this report, many of which are the direct result of work by the Government to liberalise the telecommunications sector and encourage enterprise, investment, competition and innovation,§ Senator Coonan said.
※The increasing use of advanced digital technologies, mobile and broadband services in particular, shows that Australians are not about to be left behind by the communications revolution. ※The figures contained in this latest report put paid to Labor Party claims that a move towards a deregulated market would bring negative outcomes for Australians. ※Clearly deregulation of the market and a steadfast commitment to competition in the telecommunications sector has delivered results. ※For this prosperity to continue, further targeted Government investment can and will be made through the $1.1 billion Connect Australia package and the $2 billion Communications Fund to ensure all Australians get access to faster broadband and better mobile phone services and high speed networks are delivered for our schools , hospitals and universities. ※Under Labor, the $2 billion Communications Fund would be drained of all its money and the $878 million Broadband Connect program abandoned to build an uncosted and untested network. ※Labor should abandon its ludicrous stab in the dark communications policy and back the Government＊s moves to deliver improved telecommunications services for all Australians both now and into the future.§
Television viewers in rural and regional Western Australia will soon be able to receive more and better digital television services, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, announced today. ※A Bill passed by Parliament yesterday extends to rural and regional areas the same level of digital television service that is available in Perth,§ Senator Coonan said. ※The WIN and Prime commercial television networks can now introduce a new, jointly-operated, third digital commercial television service for regional viewers. WIN and Prime expect to begin digital services in regional and remote WA in the second half of next year. The jointly-operated third digital service will follow shortly thereafter.§ The Australian Government has supported this expansion through almost $20 million in funding for WIN and Prime to roll out digital TV in regional and remote WA. ※All up, the Australian Government is providing up to $250 million through the Regional Equalisation Plan to help regional and remote commercial broadcasters introduce their digital television services,§ Senator Coonan said. The Australian Government is also providing around $1 billion in funding for the progressive roll-out of ABC and SBS digital television services throughout Australia. More than 93 per cent of WA viewers are now able to receive ABC and/or SBS digital television services.
Viewers can receive digital television services via a digital television or a set top box that converts digital signals for viewing on analogue television receivers. A set top box could cost households less than $100. ※Analogue television transmissions will continue, alongside digital, in regional and remote Western Australia for several years so viewers have a reasonable time to upgrade their technology,§ Senator Coonan said. ※This is all part of the Government＊s comprehensive plan to energetically drive Australia into the digital age. In the package of media reforms passed by Parliament this week are measures to encourage a range of new digital services. ※By next year, new services including free-to-air, in-home, digital only channels or even perhaps ＆snack＊ television 每 small segments of TV content delivered over a mobile device much like a mobile phone could be available. ※Both national broadcasters will be able to show a range of new and exciting content on their digital multi-channels and commercial broadcasters will be permitted to augment their current offerings with a high definition digital multi-channel by next year and a standard definition multichannel by 2009. ※This is great news for consumers and could potentially mean there are up to 30 new mobile TV channels, eight new in home digital channels and a range of new multichannels from both the national and commercial broadcasters. ※With these new services and the spread of digital television across Australia we hope to make the digital experience in Australia more attractive for consumers so we can energetically drive take-up of digital television in Australia.§
The number of registered ".nz" internet domain names topped a quarter of a million last week, up from 200,000 in September last year and 150,000 in April 2004. Domain Name Commissioner Debbie Monahan says the growth is a result of a robust competitive market involving more than 60 authorised registrars offering .nz names to businesses and the public.
Wireless network software specialist RoamAD said today that DR Telecom had selected its Wi-Fi equipment for a multi-city deployment in the Dominican Republic. DR Telecom had begun deploying the first phase of RoamAD's wireless equipment in the capital, Santo Domingo. The company plans to set up a Wi-Fi network through the country. RoamAD chief executive Martyn Levy said this was the first step in a large project to "unwire" the republic. The first phase of the Santo Domingo network is scheduled for launch in February when DR Telecom will offer pre-paid, fixed and mobile voice and broadband data services. The network will also be used for other applications including video surveillance. Mr Levy said RoamAD had been selected after a long period of due diligence. RoamAD's software was comparatively cheaper and much of the software work could be done remotely in Auckland. RoamAD's platform won because of its flexibility, upgradeability, and high-performance, said Felix Rosario, vice-president, DR Telecom. The full network roll-out will include providing coverage to the dense residential and business districts of all major cities in the republic (representing 59 per cent of the urban population and 1.2 million homes). DR Telecom was founded and is owned by Roberto Luis Jimenez Collie, a pioneer of the cable TV industry and former chief executive of Aster, the republic's largest cable TV operator (with over 220,000 subscribers). RoamAD last year gained a foothold in Australia with the sale of its technology in Perth to Australian telecommunications carrier Metromesh. RoamAD's wireless network uses multiple radio nodes located around a metropolitan area to provide targeted wireless coverage. Customers maintain and upgrade equipment themselves using RoamAD's design blueprint and standard hardware. The company focuses on supplying, maintaining and upgrading software online from its Auckland office. RoamAD is a privately owned company set up in 2001 to commercialise wireless technology.
Telecom NZ has launched a video home phone, the Ojo, following its roll-out of a new generation of broadband internet. The phone is the result of a partnership between Telecom and Philadelphia-based Worldgate, under which customers buy the handset from Telecom and WorldGate will provide the calling service, Telecom consumer marketing general manager Kevin Bowler said. The phone, costing $749.99, can be used anywhere in the world using a standard fixed-line broadband connection, router and WorldGate subscription. The monthly service fee of US$14.95 ($22.74) allows customers to make as many calls as they like within the their allocated broadband allowance, Mr Bowler said.
Phil downloads music for free. Yes, that's illegal most of the time and he knows it. But he also spends a lot of money on records and figures he supports his favourite musicians that way. He is typical of a lot of people nowadays who get music - sometimes for free, sometimes not - from a number of different sources and have it in multiple formats. He's also one of the many local music fans looking forward to the arrival of Apple's iTunes Music Store in New Zealand, which is expected any day now. It's been a long wait, with rumours of the store first surfacing nearly three years ago. Apple Australia - which launched iTunes more than a year ago across the Tasman and has used the iTunes brand in its iPod marketing here - is, as always, refusing to say when it will finally give New Zealand iPod owners access to the world's biggest online music catalogue. But many among the New Zealand music industry, including labels which have been in negotiations with Apple, have told TimeOut they expect iTunes before the end of the year, if not sooner. Coincidentally, the world's highest profile iPod marketeers are in in Auckland next week - U2 has its own edition of the Apple MP3 player. "I'll get an iTunes account," says Phil, who is willing to pay for tracks from the world's biggest legal music download store. But, admits the 30-something Aucklander, it won't change his music-gathering habits dramatically. He gets most of his free music from MP3 and music blog sites like Hypemachine, a haven for rabid music fans which he likens to an old-fashioned fanzine. However, rather than the thousands of MP3s on his computer, it's his extensive vinyl collection that he rates as his pride and joy.
"Our vision is to give the consumer access to legal music anyway they want it - online, mobile, CD, and it's not mutually exclusive either. You'll find people who are buying online quickly because they love a song they've just heard on a TV show, or the opposite, they love the third single so they buy the [physical] album. "There will be people out there who only buy digital or physical, but our view is the consumer is going to buy anyway, and they will consume it differently, either through the album or by cherry-picking tracks." For example, Holt says when Chasing Cars by second division British band Snow Patrol featured on Grey's Anatomy it became one of iTunes' biggest selling singles. He doesn't anticipate any sharp decline in CD sales but admits that over the next five years the digital market will grow considerably. And as iTunes has proved in different countries around the world - Australia being the prime example - it lifts the profile of digital music. That bodes well for the local music download sites that will compete with iTunes. Shaun Davis, co-founder of Digirama, says it will be interesting to see what impact Apple's store has. He's also quick to point out that iTunes is not the market leader in every country it is in - in Germany it is only the third biggest download site. Davis says Apple's marketing, branding and the iTunes/iPod compatibility gives it a big advantage. Songs downloaded from websites like Digirama and CokeTunes, which use the WMA format, cannot be transferred directly to an iPod. However, Amplifier sells iPod-playable New Zealand tracks.
Rianz chief executive Campbell Smith has already sampled the joys of iTunes care of an American credit card. He's still amazed at the number of tracks available and the gems you can find in the store's vast back catalogue. But for Smith, it's not just about iTunes. He foresees a refreshed appetite for music in New Zealand with the increasing number of ways to access it. "It's wrong for people to steal music. We don't need to say much more than that. But it makes it easier for [the record industry] when we can say please don't do that, here's a viable, legal, and safe alternative to stealing. Until recently it's been hard for us to do that. "In the record business the consumer is king and you have to be able to make product accessible. To be able to do that in more ways than we have in the past is good for us and them." The bottom line: There's more music out there than ever before and it's easier than ever to get it.
Small businesses are facing several barriers to developing e-commerce and broadband internet, a new report shows. Small Business Minister Lianne Dalziel, who today released the report, said learning how to grow small and medium enterprises (SMEs) was a key priority for the Government. "E-commerce is a medium that, once established, gives SMEs a low-cost means of entering world-wide markets." The Central Online Management and Export Trade (Comet) Accelerator Action Research Project report found key barriers to e-commerce activity were: * Cost; * Access to suitable on-line banking facilities; * Difficulty penetrating global markets; * Access to information on customs and other regulations; and * Motivation levels. Twenty-nine small firms took part on the project, which provided them subsidised e-commerce services and mentoring. Ms Dalziel said Comet's goals were identifying barriers and critical success factors to help small businesses thrive.
Woosh Wireless says it could potentially lose all of the radio bandwidth it has acquired for mobile phone and broadband following a Government decision to carve-up the spectrum and put it up for auction. The Ministry of Economic Development said yesterday it will auction off the wireless broadband spectrum, called Wimax, in early 2007. Woosh has spent several million dollars acquiring management and usage rights to Wimax spectrum in the 2.3 GHZ band so it could build a nationwide wireless network and go into competition with Telecom and Vodafone. Woosh had grown its stake of the spectrum to 50 per cent, saying it needed that amount to deliver a competitive range of IPTV (internet TV) and web services. Woosh chairman Rod Inglis, who was "surprised" by the Government's decision, said it would need to buy all the spectrum again in the auction or "lose it". Inglis has said that funding for Woosh's network was dependent on the Government rejecting the ministry's proposal. Inglis would not comment on whether funding would continue for Woosh but said its "investors had to decide how much they would pay for the spectrum". He was disappointed with the Government's decision. He had hoped it would encourage Woosh by deciding against the proposal. In the auction the 2.3 GHZ band will be divided into three separate lots of 30 megahertz. Bidders can buy a maximum of 30 megahertz each, which they can use for two years. Holders of spectrum rights would be required to use the spectrum within a "specified time period". Callplus Wimax service Blue Reach general manager Graham Walmsley said it welcomed the Government's decision. But he believed the ministry still needed to put in further limitations to stop Vodafone and Telecom buying the majority of the wireless spectrum. Vodafone and Telecom had "deep pockets"and the ability to "sit" on the spectrum without using it to deliver a specific nationwide Wimax service. Minister of Communications David Cunliffe said it was critical to create the right conditions for the future deployment of Wimax by giving a wide range of players the opportunity and the certainty they need to make a long-term investment.
The 2006 China International Industry Fair opened on Wednesday in Shanghai, China's largest economic hub. Vice Premier Huang Ju attended the opening, while Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan sent a congratulatory letter to the five-day event. In the letter, Zeng called on the fair's organizers to develop the event into a name brand exhibition on the international stage. He said the fair should be an important stage for China to conduct scientific and technological exchanges and expand trade and economic cooperation with other countries and regions. It should also contribute to improving China's industrial structure and changing the country's economic growth pattern. Solar batteries, digital machine tools, sewage treatment equipment and power-generating facilities will be displayed at the fair, which will conclude on Sunday. China first initiated the Shanghai International Industry Fair in 1999 and its name was changed this year with the approval of the State Council, China's highest governing body. The fair was co-sponsored by the National Development and Reform Commission, the ministries of commerce, science and technology, information industry, education, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the Shanghai municipal government. Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng, Minister of Science and Technology Xu Guanhua and other government officials attended the opening ceremony.
As the biggest part of the 2006 Asia Game Show, the China Digital Media Entertainment Expo will open at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center from December 15th to 18th. Under the theme ※High-Definition Technology and Digital Games,§ the expo will showcase high-tech Chinese digital games, audio and video products and even digital appliances for the home and office. One of the expo's organizers, Anthony Chung, chairman of the Hong Kong Promotion Association for Small and Medium Enterprises, explained why his organization supports the show. "The Asia Game Show in Hong Kong is a good platform and quite a good opportunity for China＊s animation industry and global market to get to know each other, especially for small and medium-sized Chinese animation companies. They are expected to learn quite a lot at the expo,§ Chung said. Besides product presentations, the expo with include other activities. Its Costume Player Contest, Digital Film Creator Contest, Blog Show and Asia IT Products Awards are sure to be big attractions for visitors set to come from all over Asia. The number of visitors to last year＊s Asia Game Show reached 280 thousand, making it one of the biggest events before Christmas.
The ongoing China High-tech Fair has become more popular among local residents as well as industry professionals, top government officials said in Shenzhen on Tuesday. The fair had attracted 450,000 visitors as Monday noon, already 20,000 more than last year's total number of visitors, Vice Mayor Liu Yingli told reporters. The professional visitor index, which is used to measure the popularity of the fair in relation to trade visitors, rose from 207.1 last year to 257.8, the vice mayor said. In 2004, the index peaked at 153. He praised the booths of domestic exhibitors, saying they were the best he had seen in the fair's eight-year history. The fair organizer is not disclosing the transaction volume reached during the fair according to international practice, but Wang Xuewei, head of the city's commerce and industry bureau revealed that more than 94 percent of the contracts signed related to high-tech products. The transactions cover a wide range of high-tech fields such as IT, bio-pharmaceuticals, new materials, environment-friendly products and new energy, Wang said. Oddly enough, the fair started out as a local li zhi (a type of fruit) festival. Now a national-level exhibition that showcases the development of science and technology in China, it provides a strong signal to the world that the country is becoming increasingly well known for its high-tech innovations and as a hothouse of high-tech start-ups, the vice mayor said. "Many Shenzhen high-tech firms have benefited from the fair. Netac, Han's Laser, and Tencent would not have experienced such rapid growth without it," he added.
The fair has also become more international with a record number of 25 foreign delegations exhibiting this year compared with 23 last year. "The developed countries are here to look for cooperation opportunities and the developing countries want to learn from China," he said. Finland, a country renowned for its innovation, sent a delegation to introduce its high-tech sectors to local companies. Liu also recounted how he had to show the Mozambique minister of science and technology around two high-tech industrial parks at midnight at the latter's request. "He showed me his country's science and technology development plan on September 26 and has committed to bringing a delegation to the fair next year," Liu said. The Hong Kong pavilion is the largest ever, with a much bigger booth, more people and more organizations than last year. But Liu admitted that there is a long way to go yet for the fair in terms of becoming a world-class international exhibition. "It took the Canton Fair 50 years to achieve its reputation and scale today, and we (the high-tech fair) are only eight years old." Liu added that there are plans to reach out to more foreign industry associations, non-government organizations and chambers of commerce for future events.
The Chinese government has announced plans for 18 patented technology exhibition and trade centers, to promote patent application and implementation. The centers will be set up in cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Wuhan and Chongqing. They will conduct exhibitions, trade and promotions of patented technology, daily patent management and carry out training in patent brokerage, and intellectual property protection. "The centers will form a trade platform for amateur inventors, medium-sized and small enterprises and investors," said Zhang Qin, deputy director of the State Intellectual Property Office, on Friday. The slow development of a patented technology market and lack of trustworthy agencies led to difficulties in the application and implementation of patents in China, said Zhang. The non-profit centers were backed by the government and would help protect inventors, said Zhang. Last year, the country handled more than 470,000 patent applications. The 18 centers open for trade from Monday to Friday. By 2010, the State Intellectual Property Office will build another 80 to 100 regional patented technology exhibition and trade centers in key cities.
The 2006 China Home Entertainment Fair, the largest of its kind in the country, opened on Thursday in south China's Guangdong Province, attracting hundreds of audiovisual companies from both home and abroad. The three-day event, held in the Guangdong Audiovisual Industry Base in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, is showcasing 100,000 products from 256 audiovisual firms, according to the organizers. Spread over an exhibition area of 25,000 square meters, the fair focuses on copyright acquisition and distribution right for audiovisual products and on new audiovisual technologies and techniques. The fair is also holding a series of seminars on digital movie development and China's audiovisual development strategy. A number of awards for audiovisual products, graphic design, sales volume and so on, will be made at the fair. The fair is being sponsored by China's Ministry of Culture and the Guangdong provincial government. It has been an annual event since 2004.
The First Seminar on Software Exports was held at the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran on Monday. According to ILNA, Amir Hossein Saeidi, who heads the State Computer Guild Organization, said at the event that the government has failed to support the sector effectively. ※Much-publicized projects such as the National Internet, student Internet accounts, etc., will not resolve the information technology (IT) sector＊s problems,※ he said. He said many government officials have little knowledge of IT-related matters, adding that for this reason, protests by IT industry authorities have met with illogical responses. ※Given the chief executive＊s keenness on exports, ideal conditions exist for software exports at present,※ he said, adding that the private sector is ready to invest in the industry. Saeidi further said that the recent announcement by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei regarding the privatization drive was meant to give the private sector a new lease on life. ※Despite the leader＊s order, IT officials continue their indifference towards the sector,※ he said, adding that they have failed to make good on their pledges. Software industry is faced with challenges such as low investment and lack of effective copyright policies.
Asian countries will hold their first meeting in Tokyo on pollution caused by disposal of electronic and medical wastes and how to facilitate recycling in each country, the Environment Ministry announced Monday. n the three-day meeting from Oct. 30, 19 Asian countries, including China that faces widespread health hazards from electronic wastes, such as those of mobile phones and personal computers, will discuss recycling measures with an eye on having Japan import and recycle electronic wastes of other countries, the ministry said. They will also talk about ways to strengthen monitoring system of medical wastes' transfer across borders and to classify and dispose of them separately to prevent infections. Britain, France, Germany, the United States and the European Union as well as several international organizations are also expected to participate in the meeting, the ministry said.
Kim Yong-min, administrator of the Public Procurement Service of Korea (PPS), will brief some 100 foreign figures on the e-procurement system known as KONEPS this Friday (Sept 8). The talk will take place over lunch at the Grand Hilton Seoul as part of the government renovation forum for Asian nations. Among those to join the lunch will be Guido Bertucci, director for the public administration and development management of the UN; Shabbir Cheema, principal advisor of the public administration of the UN; S. Amunugama, Sri Lankan public administration and home affairs minister; B. Mounphosay, Laotian minister of public administration and civil services; and Kim Ho-young, head of the United Nations Project Office on Governance in Seoul. Following the introduction of Korea's advanced e-procurement system, Kim will exchange opinions with the guests on ways to strengthen ties in the public procurement field with Asian countries, an official said.
Future technology will enable users to read web-based e-mail without having to connect to the Internet, according to Kevin Lynch, senior vice president and chief software architect of Adobe Systems. At a press conference held yesterday at the Grand Intercontinental Hotel in Samseong, southern Seoul, Mr. Lynch said that Adobe has developed a technology that enables computers to "memorize" Web information and enable a user to view that information again without network connection. "With Web mail, for example, there are examples where information viewed once online cannot be viewed again offline. However, using our technology called Apollo, a user will be able to use Web services without logging on to the Internet," Mr. Lynch said. One example is a Web-based comic strip. In places that do not support the Internet connection, a user can still view the comic strips if the information is stored within the user's computer. Adobe Systems is famous for its graphic software programs such as Photoshop and Acrobat Reader, which enable viewing of read-only PDF files. "The user interface and system are different depending on whether the device is a PC, mobile phone, or mobile game console," Mr. Lynch said. "Regardless of whether or not the device can support an Internet connection, the final goal of the Apollo technology is to enable users to have access to the same content." Mr. Lynch said Adobe plans to strengthen cooperation with Korean mobile phone firms such as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics. On Monday, Adobe announced the release of a free new version of Photoshop, digital photo-editing software, now downloadable from the company Web site. The free version expires in February 2007.
Open information day of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the complex of main economic sectors, was opened on Friday on the Sukhbaatar Square. The trade, investment, oil, and light and heavy industrial sectors advertise their activities to the public within the framework of the open information day. Geology, mining, food and good production companies displayed their products at their pavilions on the Square. The projects, programs and activities, which are realized by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, are informed to the public as well.
The fourth session of Commission on Regional Commonwealth in communication sphere will be held in Tashkent on 28-29 September. The commission will focus on information security during its Tashkent meeting. The session will consider draft programme on ensuring information security and proposals on its implementation, draft plan on development of regulative documents in information security, current state and problems in information security in CIS countries. The commission will discuss issue son introduction of e-signature in state bodies within the CIS area. The commission on information security carries out work on development of recommendations on interaction of participants of Coordination council in information security on analysis of international experience, modern technical means and information technologies, development of proposals on legal basis. The commission also assists to exchange experience in creation of system and means of information security in information-telecommunication systems and networks. The commission considers issues on state of protection of interstate ICT systems, networks, resources, technologies, means and develop recommendations on improvement of their work. It is expected that representatives of informatization administration of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldavia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine will attend the meeting.
Fourth National Summit of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT Summit 2006) held on 25 September at the International Business Centre (Tashkent) opened the ICT Week in Uzbekistan. The forum was organised by the Coordination Council for Computerisation and ICT, Committee for Press and Information Technologies of the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis, Uzbek Agency of Communication and Information, United Nations Development Programme in Uzbekistan represented by the ICT Policy Project and Association of IT Companies and Organisations of Uzbekistan. Extensive and multi-faceted programme of the Summit provides unique opportunity for the representatives of state, educational and private structures to review the achievements and discuss new trends and tasks in implementing the ICT potential as a catalyst of development in various spheres of life. Plenary and sectional meetings will be conducted in the framework of the 2006 Summit. While plenary meetings are intended to serve as a place for strategic dialogue and discussion of the issues of concern to wide audience, sectional sessions are to serve as a platform for more detailed thematic discussions focused in different spheres.
Deputy Director General of the Uzbek Agency of Communication and Information (UzACI) Asadjon Hojaev made a report at the first plenary meeting. He shortly spoke about the course of the implementation of the "Computerisation and ICT Development Programme for 2002-2010." Thus, the Resolution of the President of Uzbekistan approves target reference points for the development of telecommunication and data transmission networks and ICT; a programme for integration of ICT in the activity of state and government agencies; and a programme for the formation and development of the National Information-Search System (NISS). As a result of measures implemented in line with the target reference points and development of telecommunication networks, the total length of fibre-optic communication lines and relay lines made up 9,021.7 km as of 1 September 2006 (104% against last year's showings). The level of digitalisation has reached 69.2% (132.5%). The capacity of digital Automatic Telephone Systems (ATS) made up 1,388,700 numbers (134.3%), and the capacity of all ATS 每 2,007,400 numbers (101.3%).
According to Hojaev, the number of mobile phone users has increased by 75% to 1.93 million as of 1 September 2006. [As earlier reported, the number of mobile users in Uzbekistan made up over 2 million as of 14 September, according to UzACI director-general Abdulla Aripov]. The number of points of collective Internet access has reached 509, and the number of Internet users has exceeded 1.2 million (up by 26.3%). The average connection rate makes up 143.1 m/s. Moreover, efforts are given to integrate ICT in the work of state agencies and government bodies. In particular, their equipment with computer technology has increased 1.9 times and currently makes up 58 pieces per 100 employees. At the central apparatus of government agencies, the integration of Local Area Networks (LAN) made up 85.7% (90.2%), and in the subdivisions 每 62% (132%). Corporate networks exist in 28.8% of government bodies (144%). Around 68.3% of government officers are computer literate (85.4%). State Tax Committee (STC) has agreed with the UzACI on the implementation of the Project on Integration of the Electronic Documents Circulation System (EDCS) in the process of tax reporting. The exploitation of the software set on collection of electronic reports has been started in Tashkent and Tashkent region.
At the same time, EDCS is also gradually implemented in state agencies with due use of electronic digital signature (EDS) and compliance with the information security requirements. Thus, EDCS based on electronic mail accompanied by EDS has been integrated in eight departments, particularly Ministries of Finance, Higher and Secondary Specialised Education, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Economic Relations Investment and Trade, Internal Affairs, as well as UzACI, UzArchive and State Tax Committee. The total of 30 departments use electronic mail (without EDS), and in 12 the integration of EDCS is planned for 2007. In the framework of the Programme on Creation and Development of the National Information Search Systems, publicly accessible information resources have been created. Among them are educational websites, archive portals, media websites (magazines and newspapers), information and index portals, encyclopedic portals, websites of the eminent figures (writers), as well as sport, health, cultural and art portals. ICT Summit 2006 continues. General topics cover the trends and tendencies in the regulative policy, achievements and problems in implementing national ICT development programmes, as well as issues concerning the development of ICT infrastructure, etc.
UzA, H.Salimov - Presentation of " East-Linux " operating system, which is localized in Uzbek language by Paradox-Neo Company, was held on 16 November at the Uzbek Agency of Communication and Information (UzACI). Experts of corresponding ministries, companies and organizations participated in the presentation. Deputy Director of Paradox-Neo Company A.Fadeev provided information on creation of East-Linux operating system, operating procedure, technical opportunities. East-Linux快 operating system gives an opportunity for every person to enter the project, to localize on desirable language of used system and to receive the necessary information.
Many may not remember how we managed before computers, mobile phones and instant messaging changed your lives. A new interactive exhibition marks what has probably been one of Singapore's fastest journeys here - the development of IT over the past 25 years. InnovationNation opens at the Singapore Expo on Wednesday. From the time the first national IT plan was unveiled 25 years ago, to the recent announcement allocating $500m to develop interactive and digital media as a cornerstone of the economy, it is clear the digital lifestyle is all around us. And that is what the exhibition hopes to show, as it invites visitors to play, touch and learn. "We are at a point in our infocomm history when we are going to make major investments and we need Singaporeans to realise that this will open up brave new horizons and opportunities for us to exploit in the future. And this exhibition is one way for them to come up-close with the technologies of the future," says Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports & Second Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan. There are also exhibits which show a blast from the past - such as ear cookies which play old ringtones. Going forward, IT is also about fun and games, which is big business these days. Fiction has also catapulted into reality, such as screens which make use of sensor technology reminiscent of scenes from the movie "Minority Report". The exhibition will be on till Sunday. Targeted at students, business professionals and the general public, it hopes to attract about 30,000 visitors. The free show already has 14,000 visitors pre-registered.
Taking place at Suntec Singapore from 21-23 November 2006, the event will be launched with the theme of ※Securing Intelligent Enterprises§. The 15th iteration of Governmentware will be opened by Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee, Senior Minister of State for Law & Home Affairs, and will feature over 80 speakers across tracks in Intelligent Enterprise 2015, Electronic Identity, Site Security, and Industry E- Apps. Supported by The Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore (MHA), Infocomm Development Authority, and Civil Service College, GovernmentWare 06 also offers class leading exhibits of Security and Technology products and services from 60 industry leaders. Conference sessions will also feature unique demonstrations of threat scenarios and vulnerability testing. For the first time, business leaders from the private sector, particularly the Hospitality, Healthcare, Finance, and Supply Chain sectors, will also be present at the event as active participants and delegates. Reflecting the increasing integration of national initiatives and commercial objectives, it is also a validation of the event aim of meshing public and private sector security strategies. Full event details can be found at www.governmentware06.com and subscribers to PSTM and Asian Security are eligible for discounts. Please register online or email firstname.lastname@example.org for group discount information.
HA NOI 〞 Seventy teams have so far registered for the regional 2006 Asia-Pacific International Computer Programme contest to be held at Ha Noi National University from November 24-25, according to Viet Nam Informatics Association. Out of the 70 teams, 15 are from Chinese Taipei University, Seoul National University, Chinese Shanghai Transportation University and Chinese Hong Kong University. According to the organisation board, 12 leading teams will share the championship trophy, three gold medals, four silver and four bronze medals. The team winning the championship trophy will join the final competition set to begin in Japan on March, 2007. In 2005, for the first time, the team representing HCM City＊s Technology University was listed among the 80 leading teams from 1,717 universities that took part in the final competition.
A three-day International workshop on e-learning for Adult Continuing Education, will get underway here from tomorrow. E-learning based continuing Adult Education has changed the teaching and learning methodology of education. But use of e-learning in education, especially in continuing education has not yet gained popularity in India mainly due to lack of expertise in this area, Dr Mohandas B Menon, Education Specialist, Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and Dr V P Namboodiri, of centre of Adult Continuing Education and Extension, Cochin Univesity of science and technology (CUSAT) told a press meet here.Dr Menon said the aim was to develop CUSAT as a nodal institution and hub for e-learning in India. Dr Namboothiri said CUSAT had been asked by the UGC to set up a e-learning model to be included in the 11th plan. Work in this regard is already underway, he said. The workshop is being jointly organised by the Vancouver-based COL and CUSAT in which delegates from abroad are also expected.
The government of Nepal considers information and communications as the priority sector playing the pivotal role in changing the socio-economic landscape of the countries like Nepal, as stated by Shanker Prasad Koirala, acting secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communications of Nepal. While addressing the plenary session in the 17th Plenipotentiary conference of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in Antalya, Turkey, Shanker Prasad Koirala, stated this. He said that ITU should play a bigger role in helping developing countries by means of technical advice and consultations in order to enable them to cope with fast-paced innovations and development in ICT sector. He also informed that the government of Nepal had already adopted liberal, investment friendly and competition-oriented regime in the ICT sector resulting in substantial direct investment. The conference is being held from 6-24 November, 2006 was inaugurated by Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the conference is being participated by over 2,000 delegates from 191 countries. A four member Nepalese delegation led by Shanker Prasad Koirala, acting secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communications, attended the conference. The other members of the Nepali delegation includes Sugat Ratna Kansakar, managing director Nepal Telecom, Rupal Haldar, DMD, Nepal Telecom and Ananta Raj Khanal, Manager, Nepal Telecommunications Authority.
VICTORIA will go to a meeting of state and federal IT ministers ready to rumble on Friday, claiming the federal Government isn't living up to its promise to keep the states in the loop over its national Broadband Blueprint. Victorian ICT Minister Marsha Thomson said federal Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan had yet to lay out how the Online and Communications Council would tackle broadband issues at its meeting in Canberra. "I'd like to be able to tell you that broadband is on the agenda for Friday but we haven't seen the papers," Ms Thomson said yesterday. Of particular concern was the national Broadband Blueprint, announced by Senator Coonan in May as a way of bringing together government and private carrier broadband rollouts to maximise infrastructure, using funding from programs such as the $113 million Clever Networks initiative. "Where we have had guidelines issued for Clever Networks and the like, we were promised consultation and we've not had any," Ms Thomson said. The Clever Networks program is part of the broader Connect Australia federal initiative, which also includes the $878 million Broadband Connect package. "We've not seen anything and we're concerned that the commitment to collaboration is not being realised," Ms Thomson said. Senator Coonan was unavailable for comment, but a spokeswoman said that broadband and the rollout of next generation networks were on the agenda for Friday. Senator Coonan's office denied that states had been left out of the loop. "It's not a top-down process from our perspective," the spokeswoman said. "Among other issues, the minister will discuss with her state and territory colleagues the formation of a national Broadband Blueprint. "The minister has consulted widely with her colleagues on broadband issues and has written to her OCC colleagues twice asking for their input into the formation of the blueprint."
Hosting this year's Digital Earth Summit on Sustainability has put Auckland on the international map in the fast-moving world of geo-spatial technology development, say the summit's supporters. And a new city council plan is likely to give the city a further high-tech boost. More than 300 of the world's specialists in fields including digital mapping, geo-informatics and remote sensing attended the August summit. Web applications such as Google Earth and others that link locations to services have made geo-spatial technologies a hot topic for both researchers and companies. An architect of the Auckland conference, Auckland City Councillor Richard Simpson, says an immediate benefit of hosting the event has been a commitment from Digital Earth's international governing society to return to the city in 2008 for a follow-up summit. Simpson is optimistic the summit will become a regular event in Auckland every two years, and he says he wants to build an arts and cultural event around it to complement the "big science issues" on the agenda. The summit's focus this year was on how technology and data could be used to "achieve sustainability in all sectors of society and the environment" and Simpson says Auckland now needs to improve its own technology if it is to be taken seriously in this area.
"What it's about is how can we make Auckland not the number five city in the world, which it already is on a lifestyle basis through our natural inheritance of a nice harbour and landscape. "It's trying to get us up to number one - we want to get there by merit on the fact that we are a sustainable city." Simpson says Auckland has been slow to adopt broadband, but he hopes a new city council plan will change that. The council last month committed $450,000 this financial year and $600,000 in subsequent years to a Digital Auckland strategy aimed at promoting technology infrastructure projects. The money will support the development of businesses cases for broadband infrastructure projects such as a wi-fi network in the central business district, laying fibre-optic ducting during roading projects in the city and developing a "geo-referenced" internet portal to give location-based council information and services. The council is compiling a list of business and community leaders for a taskforce to help drive the Digital Auckland strategy. "We've opened the office, now we're in the process of working through the appointment of people for this role," Simpson says. The $600,000 annual budget will not fund projects directly, but will provide the facilitation and championing of the "greater plan" Auckland needs to attract new business, he says.
The council said in August that it believed a council-owned, open access wi-fi service in the central city area could be operating within six months of a proposal being developed. The council's goal is for most Aucklanders to have access to fast broadband by September 1, 2010. Simpson said the date was significant because it was one month before local authority elections meaning it "put a gun to the head of the council to get it done". His vision for the council's geo-referenced web portal includes developing a site that pulls together local authority information, and data from other sources to give a full range of location-based services. Calorie maps which calculated the energy used for trips using different forms of transport were one service the site could offer, enabling residents to put sustainability issues relating to their travel into context. Splogs - or spatial blogs - were another. Blog entries on a specific location such as a local historic building, park or other piece of real estate, would be an invaluable tool for groups such as heritage societies, Simpson says.
Digital city Auckland City Council has budgeted $450,000 this year and $600,000 annually from next year to support the development of business cases for projects including: * A wi-fi (wireless) project focused on the CBD and CBD fringe * A MUSH network (connecting municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals, focused on the CBD and isthmus) * Laying council ducting when doing road works. * Micro-technology to deploy fibre networks A council portal with geo-referenced digital information about the city.
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, today launched National E-Security Awareness Week, 23每27 October 2006, to encourage Internet users to ＆stay smart online＊. ※The Internet is increasingly part of our home and business lives, from banking and shopping, to communicating with family and friends,§ Senator Coonan said. ※We all need to think about security when we set up our computers and in our behaviour when online. National E-Security Awareness Week has activities and useful information about online security, for businesses and home users of all ages. ※As part of National E-Security Awareness Week, I am delighted to launch a new website www.staysmartonline.gov.au, for Internet users. It has simple advice on how to secure computers, transact and interact safely online. ※I encourage all Australians to visit this website the next time they are online. The website provides access to a range of information and resources including helpful top tips, fun quizzes, and guides to help them stay smart online. ※I would like to thank industry and community groups who are participating in E-Security Awareness Week. It is an important initiative, and part of the Australian Government＊s continuing efforts to enable Australians to put in place basic steps to protect themselves, their families and their businesses when online.
※Common sense and three simple steps go a long way to enabling Australians can stay smart online. Protect your computer〞Install security software and keep it up to date; Think before you click〞Don＊t open suspicious emails or attachments from unknown sources or emails requesting your personal details; and Stay informed〞Visit the Stay Smart Online website at to find more top tips and sign up to receive the latest advice on emerging issues and e-security threats.§ The week will consist of a series of events across Australia based on four key themes: how to protect your computer, how to identity online threats, smart transactions online and kids safe online. A variety of activities will be held during the week, ranging from national initiatives such as Internet Industry Association＊s Get Net Safe Initiative that provides security software for free trial, to the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association＊s conducting seminars for older Australians in regional NSW.