|Autumn 2006 Issue15|
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| E-Government Summit to Foster Strong Cooperation Among South Asian Countries
Dubai Internet City Seeks to Boost ICT Ties Between Middle East and East Asia
United Nations Agencies to Coordinate Implementation of WSIS Plan of Action
International Support for E-framework Initiative
United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) Launched
Call for Countries of Asia Pacific-Region to Adopt ODF
New Symantec Asia Chief Says EMC Playing Catch Up
Drive for E-gov Fuels Strong Growth in IT Spend in APAC
South Asia Needs to Talk Across Borders to Solve Language Issue
South Korea Climbs to Top Rank in Global E-Government
UNESCO to Launch 'Community of Practice' on Local E-Government
Intense Debate Aims at Future Shape of Digital Broadcast Services
Asia Top Continent for Spam Relay - Sophos Survey Finds That U.S. has Lost 'Title'
Digital Broadcasting Set to Transform Communication Landscape by 2015
Spotlight on How the Poor Use Their Phones
New Move to Bridge Digital Divide by the Commonweal
Lack of Innovations at Computex
India Outstrips China and Russia in IT Race
PCs for the Poor--Ultimate Solution or Scam of the Century
Google Sees a Mobile Future in Asia
Leaders Say Information Security Is Imperative
Key ICT Players Meet to Discuss Future - CEOs and CTOs to Provide Unique Vision
Government Technology (GT) Summit & Exhibition 2006 in Dubai
Asian Data-Storage Industry Set for Strong Growth
The Largest Conglomeration of ICT Practitioners & Experts to Meet in New Delhi
Government Technology Forum 06 - Incorporating Government Technology Showcase
Regional Radiocommunication Conference 2006
The 6th Annual Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region Coming Soon
Asia＊s Doors Open Only Very Slightly to Community Radio
| CHINA: Blogs, Search Engines to Be Supervised
Expatriates Eligible for IT Elites
Search Engines Get Internet Regulation Protection
Streamline Online Copyright Protection
Rules May Vex Foreign Operators
China to Issue New Regulations to Censor Online Video Programs
China Unicom Gets Nod to Develop 3G Network in Macao
China to Announce Digital TV Standard
IRAN: Minister Vows Lower SIM Card Prices
Cabinet Okays New Technical, Executive Body
Presidential Support for Nat＊l Computer Network
JAPAN: Planning Intelligent Road Systems
KOREA: Releasing Informatization White Paper
Government Aims to Up Cell Phone Exports
Customs to Target Internet Fakes
KAZAKHSTAN: Internet Tariffs Planned to Be Lowered Next Year
MONGOLIA: Customs Designs Master Plan on IT
UZBEKISTAN: National Television and Radio Company Receives Tax Benefits
|INDONESIA: House to Debate Draft Law on Electronic Transactions
PHILIPPINES: ICT Body Presents Roadmap, Civil Society Takes a Stand
Stiffer Penalties Eyed for Cybersex Offenders
SINGAPORE: S'pore Unveils New US$1.3B E-govt Plan
Singapore's Network Vision
Singapore Signs Latest UN Convention to Boost E-Commerce
Singapore Moves From e-Gov to iGov
| BANGLADESH: Bill to Ban Illegal TV Channels Soon
INDIA: National Policy on E-Waste
Govt of Orissa Unveils Road Map for E-Governance
New E-return Forms By Central Board of Direct Taxes in India
India: Orissa Unveils Blueprint for E-Governance
ICT to Strengthen India＊s Vision for 2020: Kalam Believes
E-Service Tax for Users of E-Governance
Legal Act for Cyber Crime in India
Post 7/11, Govt Targets ＆Extreme＊ Websites, Bloggers on the Blink
Digital Guide Maps of Chennai(India) Coming
India Rejects One Laptop Per Child
New Telecom Policy to Be Developed By Government of India
E-Filling of Annual Returns for Corporates in India from September 16
PAKISTAN: Cable Operators Protest Imposition of New Tax
PM Calls for Quick Setting Up of IT Parks
PTA Given Guidelines on Mobile Phone Jamming Issue
| AUSTRALIA: Coonan Details Porn Laws
Govt E-Buying Revised
Australian Government Frameworks on Smartcards, Authentication and Public Service ID Management
Watchdog to Vet Internet Content
Canberra Planning Smartcard Manual
Big Win for Small Service Providers
NEW ZEALAND: Wireless Broadband Paper Released
CHINA: New Public Service Call Center for R&D
Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre (HKCERT/CC)
Better Online Government
Shanghai E-government Ranked Third in a Global Evaluation
Gov't to Monitor Public R&D Funds
Build Clean Gov't Online
Complaint Center Built to Fulfill Administrative Duties
IPR Hotline Opens Lines for Public Complaints
E-govt to Be Fully in Place by 2008 in Shenzhen
City Upgrades Gov't Website Security
E-system Adopted in Anti-Corruption of Public Finances
IRAN: E-Banking Makes Debut
JAPAN: Government's Entrance Exam Results Leaked on the Net
Police Uncover Record Number of Internet Crimes
It's Cyber-Hammer Time for Local Governments
KOREA: Online Health Consultation Service for Foreign Workers Begins
S. Korea to Launch World's First Mobile Internet Service
S. Korea's Information Ministry to Supply Vaccine Programs for Windows 98 Users
Korea Tops E-Government Rankings
KAZAKHSTAN: "E-Government" Portal to Be Ready to Provide Interactive Services This December
Kazakhstan to Offer Interactive E-Services
| INDONESIA: Govt to Issue New License for Int'l Call Services
MALAYSIA: State Govt in Pact with AGC to Develop Wireless Perak
PHILIPPINES: Local Officials See Positive Impact of Computerization
State Softens Stance on iTV Fee Payment
SINGAPORE: Shared Services Lab Established in Singapore
National Cyber-Threat Monitoring Centre to Open Next Year
Singapore's Call Centres Ranked No 2
Subordinate Courts Harnesses Technology to Improve Court System
THAILAND: NTC Given Clearance to Issue 3G Licences
VIET NAM: Govt to Help Business Develop IT, E-Commerce
Online Censors Target Politics Not Porn, Says Study
| BANGLADESH: Biman Bangladesh to Adopt E-Ticketing System Soon
E-Governance for Good Governance
INDIA: NSI, India, Starts Online Service for Citizens
India Proposes to Set Up ICT Centre of Excellence in Riyadh
Union Cabinet of India Approved Proposal for Creation of NSDI
Govt to Add E-District Programme in National E-governance
PPP Model to Synergise E-governance in India
Indian Capital City Courts to Go Computerized
All-India Icome-tax Network to Be Functional by January
Chandigarh Administration in India to Go Wireless
Madhya Pradesh State Pioneers in E-governance in India
Government of Haryana to Deploy ADHAAR for E-Governance
Finance Ministry Makes E-Procurement and E-Payment Mandatory
Launch of E-Governance Project in Chennai
SAP India Ties Up with IIMB for E-Governance Tools
State Wide E-gov Project in Uttaranchal, India
PAKISTAN: Unveils Online Recruitment Service
IT Role in Development Highlighted
|AUSTRALIA: Minister Offers $900m for Broadband
AG to Beef Up Security
Post Office Tightens ID
Smartcard Gurus Appointed
DIMA Sprints on Tech Upgrade
Australia＊s Best Kept ※Secrets§ in ICT to Be Revealed
Proposed Au Internet Domain Review
RFID to Track Inmates
Review Targets Telco Red Tape
E-Census Count Climbs
Nairn Promotes ICT Industry Partnerships
Health Network 'Fragile'
FIJI: ICT Neglected, Chamber Says
NEW ZEALAND: Bureaucrats to Be More Mobile
| CHINA: Website to Offer Youngsters Free Legal Help
China's Phone Users Increase
E-science Benefits Farmers
Software Developed to Boost City's Agriculture R&D
Project Promotes Firms to Go Online
Shanghai Plans Traffic Info Website to Tackle Congestion
China Now Has 123 Million Internet Users
Online Transactions to Reach 1000b Yuan
Computer and Information Centre/Area
Online SME Loans
Broadband Helps Connect Remote Villages
Hot Spell Boosts Online Shopping
China Pushes Large Enterprise Use of Genuine Software
Net Penetration Nears 68%
Newspapers Encouraged to Go Electronic
SMEs Simply Lack IT
High-Tech System to Help Monitor Grabbing of Farmland
Digital Travel Plans at Your Fingertips
Chinese Domain Name Sells for $160,000
China Is Slowly Embracing IT, Says CEO of SAP in Asia
75% of China's Computers Attacked by Virus
IRAQ: Intel Hopes for Iraq Push
IRAN: Local Firms to Produce 6m Cell Phones
IT Centers in 4 Villages
IRAN: Online Car Deals Launched
Cellphone Production Failure Will Increase Prices
Mobile Phone Firms Plan Merger
JAPAN: Smart Cards and E-Japan
DSL Declines in Japan
The Dream Home Network: ※Not Just a Dream§
Japan Fibre Net Users Pass 5.3 Million
Bloggers Total 8.68 Million in Japan, Becoming Influential
Online Crimes Surging in Japan
Online Fraud Reaches All Time High in Japan
Web Site Aims to Share Illness Info
KOREA: Political Campaigning on the Internet Mushrooming
Online Content Firms Prep for Boom
Korea Establishes ICT Fund at ADB for Achieving MDGs
S. Korea Tops the World in IT Development
E-Commerce Records Slight Growth
Software Upgraded to Protect Privacy on Web
Locally Developed Technology a Symbol of Korea's Progress
MONGOLIA: Internet Center Opened in Soum
State-Owned New Company Will Establish Network Service
TURKMENISTAN: Turkmenistan Establishes Network of Japanese Komatsu Service Centers
| MYANMAR: Develops ICT-Related New Satellite Town in Northern City
MALAYSIA: Green Packet: High-Speed Internet Service Next Year
Sarawak to Transform Sama Jaya High-Tech Zone into Cybercity
PHILIPPINES: MICS Targets Full Implementation of CCPO eBlotter System Before ASEAN Summit
ATM Networks Unite to Lower Transaction Costs, Service Fees
Cebu City Website Bags 2006 Cebu Web Awards
Baguio Set to Become Potential ICT Outsourcing Hub
Text Messages Hit 250M a Day
Escolta to Rise Again as IT Center
Speed, Security, Savings--Key IT Considerations for SMEs
SINGAPORE: Coming Soon: High-Definition Programmes on Your PC
New Web-Based Digital Tidal Atlas Launched
Online Portal to Be Launched to Help Overseas Singaporeans Connect with Home
Consumers to Get Instant Access to Credit Files Online From Next Month
Singapore's Infocomm Technology Industry Rakes in $37b in 2005
Arrival of Digital Age to Impact Singapore's Future: PM Lee
THAILAND: Judging Begins for ICT Awards
VIET NAM: SMEs to Invest $263.3 Million in IT in 2006
| BANGLADESH: To Reap Best Results From ICTs
Poor Capacity, Network Deprive Huge BTTB Subscribers of Its Services
Pvt Mobile Users Deprived of Free Incoming Facility-Revenue Sharing Deals with BTTB Yet to Materialise
INDIA: Railway Plans for E-procurement
IT Penetration to Change the Indian Scenario Says Minister
India to Spearhead in ODF Revolution
E-governance for Poor in India
E-Programme Initiatives to Promote More Desktops in India
PC Penetration in India Trebles
Indian Bloggers Angry at Government Online Censorship
Drive for Grooming More IT Talent in India
Smart City Project at Kochi
Right to Information Act: How Equitably Rural Citizens Benefit?
IT, ITES Continue to Fuel Real Estate Growth'
1,000 Tele-centres Across Karnataka Opening Shortly
SRI LANKA: To Empower People with Benefits of E-commerce
PAKISTAN: FPSC Automation Project Launched by Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari
Cellphone Service in N. Areas from Aug 14
System to Block Stolen Cellphones Soon: PTA
| AUSTRALIA: Free Software Shields Kids from Cyber Smut
Heritage to Be Digitised
Australian Banks 'Fail' in Online Mission
Money and Digital Safety Woes Widen
Growth Slows of Regular Consumers of Online News, Newspapers Stem Decline Net Editions, Survey Shows
Canberra Looks at Wiki Services
Tele-Nurse on the Way
Centrelink Wants E-Banker
Vic to Tap Telework
Bank Customers Should Guard Against Online Fraud
National Coverage Audits for 3G Mobile Phone Network
Standard for Smart Home Loans
Brand Fix for Tech Recruitment
Online Readership Surges As More People Read All about It
Online Ads Give Seek a Lift
Accenture to Build $120m School System
Bank Branches Out Again after Internet Expansion
NEW ZEALAND: Faster, Cheaper Broadband Due for NZ by October
Telecom Told to Give Callplus and Ihug Greater Internet Access
Broadband Uptake Improving - Slowly
| CHINA: E-commerce Conference
Digital Entertainment Expo Features Girl Models, Latest Games
Taipei Computer Application Show to Be Big Draw for Bargain Hunters
IRAQ: National Security and Science & Technology Ministers Confirm Participation at ISTC Summit
JAPAN: Needing to Improve Internet Access
KOREA: IT Chiefs Meet to Discuss Future Tech Development
UZBEKISTAN: Development of Insurance Relations in ICT Discussed at Seminar
ICT Exhibition to Take Place in Mid-September
Internet and Information Resources in Science, Education, Culture and Business
| PHILIPPINES: COMDDAP Gears Up for Cebu ICT Expo in June
SINGAPORE: Spring Singapore Launches Infocomm Guide for SMEs
THAILAND: ICT Events and Training
| BANGLADESH: ICT Emphasised in Seminar
PAKISTAN: Computing Workshop Concludes
|AUSTRALIA: New Advice on Managing IT Security
Long Wait for Conversions as Victorians Flock to LPG
E-govWorld 2006 (South Asia)ㄛOctober 26-28, 2006, New Delhi, India ㄛis the second conference in the series of International workshops and conferences/expositions aimed at enhancing collaboration and exchange of learning practices among the industry, academia, civil society organizations and the public sector. The first conference in the series titled e-GovIndia was held in Chandigarh, India where Indian and European e-Government stakeholders exchanged their experiences. Governments across the South Asian region are in the process of charting out comprehensive e-Government strategies as per their national priorities. However, e-Government is a resource intensive activity and governments, particularly in developing and underdeveloped world, having limited resources need to share their knowledge and experiences to enhance the possibility of success of e-Government projects. Countries under SAARC initiative comprises of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Srilanka. e-GovWorld 2006 (South Asia) and e-SAARC awards for innovation in government is an initiative to promote the cooperation among the South Asian countries and create awareness about successful projects in South Asian region besides providing recognition to the innovative e-government projects . The conference program is aimed at building a strong communication among the community of e-Government practitioners, government officers, researchers and academia for sharing of learning practices on the international level.
Dubai Internet City (DIC), the information and communications technology (ICT) hub of the region, is seeking to enhance ICT ties between the Middle East and East Asia by participating in Communic Asia, one of the largest technology exhibitions in East Asia.
Implementation of the outcomes of the recently concluded World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) gathered momentum with the launch of the United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS). High level representatives of twenty-two UN agencies met on Friday, 14 July 2006 at ITU Headquarters in Geneva under the chairmanship of ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi to facilitate the process. UNGIS will serve as an interagency coordinating mechanism within the UN system to implement the outcomes of WSIS. The Group will enable synergies aimed at resolving substantive and policy issues, avoiding redundancies and enhancing effectiveness of the system while raising public awareness about the goals and objectives of the global Information Society. UNGIS will also work to highlight the importance of ICTs in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. To maximize its efficiency, the Group agreed on a work plan in which it would concentrate its collective efforts each year on one or two cross-cutting themes and on a few selected countries. In the coming period, UNGIS will focus on bringing the efforts of the UN system to bear on expanding access to communications, for instance through multimedia community centres, teleshops, etc. Drawing on the respective competencies of the different members of the Group, UNGIS will also focus on applications related to e-health and e-tourism. At the same time, the Group will examine the e-readiness strategies and policies of one or two countries, to be proposed by UNDP, to develop a comprehensive toolkit for bringing the benefits of the Information society to developing countries.
During the first year, UNGIS will be chaired by ITU, with UNESCO, UNDP and WHO acting as vice-chairs. UNGIS has been established by the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, at the request of the Summit and in consultation with members of the UN system Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB). WSIS has contributed towards a better understanding of the key issues and challenges of the Information Society. Throughout the process, critical issues such as infrastructure, capacity building, the regulatory environment and financing have been discussed and refined. Pioneering work on financing ICTs for development and on internet governance has resulted in the most comprehensive international documents ever endorsed on the topics at the international level. The Summit set critical targets for global connectivity and ICT for development to be reached by 2015 and established 11 action lines to achieve the objectives of the Information Society. The outcome outlines a detailed blueprint involving governments, the private sector, civil society, the United Nations and other international organizations for implementation and follow-up at the national, regional and international levels.
New Zealand's Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Netherland's SURF Foundation have been formally welcomed as Partners in the e-Framework Initiative, now undertaken by the JISC and Australia's Department for Education, Science and Training (DEST).The e-Framework is an ambitious and far-reaching programme, exploring more flexible approaches to the technical infrastructures for e-Learning, e-Research and e-Administration. The initiative is now attracting growing international support, from national education and research bodies as well as commercial IT suppliers worldwide. Murray Leach, representing the MoE, commented that joining of New Zealand and Nether Land in the initiative signals a timely and strategic investment for the country. Speaking on behalf of the JISC-DEST Cooperation Partnership Board, Sarah Porter said that they were particularly pleased to welcome colleagues from SURF and the New Zealand Ministry of Education to assist them. Both SURF and the MoE have impressive records in developing IT solutions for education and information environments. Their experience will provide valuable perspectives in developing the e-Framework.
On 14 July 2006, at International Telecommunication Union Headquarters in Geneva, under the chairmanship of ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi, with the launch of the United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS), the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) gathered momentum. UNGIS has been established by the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, at the request of the Summit and in consultation with members of the UN system Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB). It will serve as an interagency coordinating mechanism within UN system to implement the outcomes of WSIS and it will enable synergies aimed at resolving substantive and policy issues, avoiding redundancies and enhancing effectiveness of the system while raising public awareness about the goals and objectives of the global Information Society. UNGIS will also work to highlight importance of ICTs in meeting Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). During the first year, UNGIS will be chaired by ITU, with UNESCO, UNDP and WHO acting as vice-chairs.
An official from the United Nations (U.N.) has called for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to embrace the Open Document Format (ODF).Sunil Abraham, Manager of the International Open Source Network (IOSN) at the U.N, hopes that governments in the region will now extend that support and 'seriously consider' the Open Document Format (ODF). Malaysia became the one of the first Asian countries to propose the use of ODF as a national standard for office documents. In the Philippines, there is no official policy on the adoption of ODF in the country, according to Peter Antonio Banzon, Division Chief of the Philippines' Advanced Science and Technology Institute, although the government agency has already standardised its internal documents on the ODF. According to IOSN's Abraham, the lack of interoperability is stopping more governments from going ahead to mandate the ODF standard within their countries. Last week, the ODF Alliance announced that more than 280 organisations and industry bodies have joined up to support the format. ODF has been approved as a standard by OASIS. ISO also approved it in May of this year. It can be used royalty-free by anyone.
Bill Robbins, incoming senior vice president of Symantec Corp. Asia Pacific and Japan, believes EMC Corp.'s proposed $2 billion takeover of RSA Security validates the company's recent Veritas merger. Robbins, who previously worked as vice president of Veritas Software in Northern Europe, has just taken up the regional senior vice president position for Symantec. "Like almost all players in the technology market the early mover have the competitive advantage; we are doing this by offering both information security and availability," he said. "We look at the EMC merger with RSA security as a positive, because it validates what we (Symantec/Veritas) did almost 18 months ago. ※I like the fact that we are seeing our competition feel as though they need to make moves to keep up with us," Robbins believes the changing market is proof of a trend towards the true convergence of security and availability around the protection of information. He said regulatory compliance has brought together security and storage while the Symantec/Veritas merger supports information integrity
According to IDC, the drive for e-Government, operational efficiency and the pressure to build an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) savvy nation is fuelling strong growth in IT spending for the public sector in the Asia Pacific region. The public sector continues to be one of the largest IT spending vertical in the region. IDC predicts a strong Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.7 per cent from 2006-2010 with expenditure to reach $ 31.67 billion by 2010. Emerging economies like China and India will be huge drivers of IT spending as they build up their ICT infrastructure, whereas mature economies 〞 while showing moderate growth 〞 will be moving up in ICT sophistication. An example of such sophistication is the increased focus on government-to-public interaction and government-to-industry collaborative efforts, driving IT initiatives and service rollout, especially in the education and healthcare sectors. Fuelled by a booming economy, Government policies are driving the consolidation and leveraging of ICT to improve operations and services to the public. China, with the largest public sector market at $ 6.5 billion in 2006, is expected to almost double by 2010 to $11.7 billion. India and emerging economies such as Vietnam will see CAGR of over 16 per cent as they attempt to accelerate the modernisation of their Government and the learning curve of the economy.
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.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. 〞 Asian countries once again dominate e-government ratings, taking three of the top five spots in a global e-government study undertaken by researchers at Brown University. South Korea, ranked 86th last year, earned the top rank, followed by Taiwan, Singapore, the United States and Canada. The study shows that 29 percent of government agencies around the world are offering online services, compared to 19 percent in 2005. The sixth annual survey conducted by Darrell M. West, director of the Taubman Center for Public Policy and American institutions at Brown University, and a team of researchers evaluated online government Web sites of 198 countries around the globe. The researchers evaluated government Web sites based on two dozen criteria, including disability access, existence of publications and databases, presence of privacy and security policies, contact information, and the number of online services. The Taubman Center released previous studies of global e-government in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.
This year＊s study reviewed 1,782 government Web sites in 198 countries during June and July 2006. A variety of different sites were analyzed, including executive, legislative and judicial offices as well as such departments and ministries of the government as health, education, foreign affairs, interior, finance, natural resources, foreign investment, transportation, military, tourism and telecommunication. Researchers found that 94 percent of Web sites have online publications and 72 percent have links to databases. Only 26 percent (up from 18 percent in 2005) show privacy policies and 14 percent present security policies (up from 10 percent in 2005). Software provided by the company Watchfire Inc. assesses whether websites provide assistance for the vision- or hearing-impaired. According to this software, government Web sites are still lagging on disability access. Only 23 percent of sites provide disability access, although this is up from 19 percent in 2005. In addition to analyzing particular features, researchers rated countries for overall e-government performance. By evaluating the aforementioned features as well as others including PDA access, user fees, and foreign language translation, researchers rated each country on a zero to 100 point scale. The following table illustrates the rankings of the 198 countries in 2006. (Previous year＊s ranking and score are in parentheses.)
UNESCO will launch an international community of practice on local e-Government through its 'Information for All Programme'. The community of practice will help participants to exchange technical information and experiences on the use of ICT for empowerment and participation of citizens in government at local level. It will be a virtual information centre on e-Governance. The network will be operational to Spanish speaking experts at the beginning of 2007. The Information for All Programme was created in 2000 by UNESCO's Executive Board as a successor to the General Information Programme and the International Informatics Programme. Open to experts of all countries, the community will initially bring together the participants of three training courses developed in cooperation with the Union Iberoamericana de Municipalidades under a project promoting ICTs as tools for improvement of local governance that UNESCO runs since 2002. The project is one of UNESCO's contributions to the implementation of the Geneva Plan of Action adopted by the World Summit on the Information Society that includes the implementation of e-Government strategies focusing on applications aimed at innovating and promoting transparency in public administrations and democratic processes, improving efficiency and strengthening relations with citizens.
The ITU Regional Radio communication Conference (RRC-06), in session since last week, has been making quiet but steady progress towards an ＆all-digital＊ terrestrial broadcasting service for radio and television. This represents a significant step in the future development of information and communication technologies as well as the revolutionary direction it will provide in improving communications worldwide. In its first week of deliberations, RRC-06 took decisions to allow iteration of the complex software tools used by the ITU secretariat as a basis to generate the draft plan that will facilitate digital broadcasts around the world in the future. Mr Yoshio Utsumi, addressing the inaugural session of the Conference on 15 May, noted that digital terrestrial broadcasting is now a reality in many countries. "Many Member States have already established a cut-off date for migration from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting," he said. "Recognizing the advantages of the digital dividend, these countries are demanding immediate and unrestricted access to digital bandwidths. Meanwhile, other countries remain protective of the analogue system."
In view of this divergence, a major challenge of the Conference is to find ways of permitting digital and analogue broadcasting systems to co-habit on the radio frequency spectrum without causing interference. A regional agreement for the digital service, planned in the frequency bands 174-230 MHz and 470-862 MHz, should be reached at the end of the next five weeks of deliberations with important implications for countries of Europe and Africa (Region 1) and the Middle East and the Islamic Republic of Iran (Region 3).Conference Chairman, Mr Kavouss Arasteh of the Islamic Republic of Iran, noted that the overall objective for RRC-06 must be to meet current digital broadcasting requirements while gaining the maximum flexibility for the future use of the spectrum becoming available as a result of digital technology efficiency gains. He added that such spectrum may be provided for broadcasting services, as well as other potential advanced communications services, matching both technological and commercial developments. Digital terrestrial television broadcasting is already a reality in many countries within the planning area. In countries where terrestrial television is still dominant, application of digital broadcasting is providing more channels and increasing choice for the consumers.
In other countries where there is a much higher penetration of cable and satellite and less reliance on terrestrial broadcasting, digital broadcasting offers mobile reception of video, internet and multimedia data. Digital broadcasting is roughly six times more efficient than analogue, allowing more channels to be carried across fewer airwaves. The plans for digital switchover will therefore allow for an increase in the efficiency with which the spectrum is used 〞 a digital dividend 〞 which will open the way for wireless innovation and the potential for new services. Mr Arasteh also co-chaired the first session of the Radio communication Conference in 2004 and chaired the intersessional planning activities. Digital terrestrial broadcasting services will go a long way in connecting remote communities and in closing the digital divide. Mr Valery Timofeev, Director of the Radio communication Bureau of ITU, said, "This conference represents the first practical response in the radio communications sector to the decisions of the World Summit on the Information Society concerning the existing digital divide. "Nearly 700 delegates representing 120 administrations of ITU Members States within the planning area are currently debating complex technical, regulatory and political issues while simultaneously negotiating with neighbors on the coexistence of broadcasting and other wireless systems. RRC-06 is running in parallel with two short-period conferences for the revision and abrogation of the Stockholm 1961 and Geneva 1989 Agreements dealing with frequency bands and articles relevant to analogue television.
More spam is relayed through Asia than any other continent -- a sharp difference from the situation two years ago, when the United States accounted for over half of all spam sent to the world. According to a Sophos report on the top 12 spam relaying countries for the first quarter of 2006, Asia has taken over the top spot (42.8%) for spam relaying as a continent, in front of North America and Europe at 25.6% and 25% respectively. The U.S., however, remains the country relaying the most spam, although it now accounts for less than a quarter. China is fast narrowing the gap as the U,S, continues to make good progress in its efforts to reduce spam-relaying statistics. "Asia＊s spam relaying numbers is growing because of its growing economy (spam being a tool for marketing) and broadband becoming more widely available," said Dr. Jan Hruska, co-founder of Sophos PLC.Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, also pointed out that more and more viruses, worms and Trojan horses are being designed to take over innocent users＊ computers with the intention of stealing information and sending out junk e-mail campaigns. In the U.S., however, the fall in proportion of spam being relayed through the country is evidence that more Americans are waking up to the need to protect their home computers from malicious hackers, he said.Helped by legislation such as Can-Spam and greater information sharing by Internet service providers, the U.S. has imposed severe penalties and fines for its most prolific spammers. During the first quarter of 2006, several gang members responsible for distributing massive quantities of pornography admitted their involvement in a criminal spam ring. "The recent high-profile convictions of some spammers served as a warning to the others, and have helped to reduce the percentage of spam from the U.S.," said Hruska. According to Hruska, one in 40 e-mails contains a virus, and one in two e-mails is spam. The Internet has become an infectious network. "If you connect a PC running on Windows XP, without any patches or antivirus software, to the Internet, and left it alone without doing anything, it has a 94% chance to get infected in 60 minutes, and 40% chance to get infected in 10 minutes," he said."It has become a $3 billion market for spammers, and with the money, they are recruiting professionals to write better quality hijack codes and viruses, and not using amateurs like before."Hruska advised computer users to have at least the following three measures to protect themselves from being zombie computers: Ensure the latest patches are updated for the operating system; use a firewall, even if it is just the version built into Windows; and install anti-virus and antispam software and keep it up to date
A treaty agreement was signed today at the conclusion of ITU＊s Regional Radio communication Conference (RRC-06) in Geneva, heralding the development of ＆all-digital＊ terrestrial broadcast services for sound and television. The digitalization of broadcasting in Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Islamic Republic of Iran by 2015 represents a major landmark towards establishing a more equitable, just and people-centred Information Society. The digital switchover will leapfrog existing technologies to connect the unconnected in underserved and remote communities and close the digital divide."The most important achievement of the Conference," remarked Mr Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of ITU, "is that the new digital Plan provides not only new possibilities for structured development of digital terrestrial broadcasting but also sufficient flexibilities for adaptation to the changing telecommunication environment."
TThe agreement reached at RRC-06 paves the way for utilizing the full potential of information and communication technologies to achieve the internationally recognized development goals. The date of transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting in the year 2015 is intended to coincide with the targets set by the Millennium Development Goals. The regional agreement for digital services has been reached in the frequency bands 174 - 230 MHz and 470 - 862 MHz. It marks the beginning of the end of analogue broadcasting. The Conference agreed that the transition period from analogue to digital broadcasting, which begins at 0001 UTC 17 June 2006, should end on 17 June 2015, but some countries preferred an additional five-year extension for the VHF band (174-230 MHz).The Regional Radio communication Conference was chaired and brought to a successful conclusion by Mr Kavouss Arasteh of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
What kinds of phone connections do the poor use? How much do they spend on telecom services? Are they willing to spend more? How do they choose their phone connection? What do they use phones for? And, what difficulties do they face while doing so? Many questions here... but the hints of possible answers come up in a South Asian study that looks at telecom users in India and Sri Lanka who have monthly incomes of less than USD$ 100.Conducted by LIRNEasia - www.lirneasia.net - or the Learning Initiatives on Reforms for Network Economies, the survey is being called a "path-breaking" one. Some 3199 persons were included in the total sample, and it covered telecom users in seven diverse districts of India and four in Sri Lanka. This study's findings were released and made available at the APC regional consultation on ICT policy in South Asia, in April 2006.
Some interesting findings More than half of the respondents do not even own the phone that they use. 31% of fixed owners and 7% of mobile owners allow other people - other than family - to use their phones. 'Keeping in touch' with friends and family locally was the biggest use of telephones. Sixty four per cent of mobile users spend at least USD$ 4 per month on mobile communications. One-third of mobile users in Jaffna, the town in northern Sri Lanka, spend over 12 per cent of their monthly income on telecommunications. Women spend equally as long on the phone as men, and use the phone for the same purposes. Twenty two per cent of Sri Lankan respondents with monthly incomes below USD$ 50 owned a mobile, though only three per cent owned a fixed phone. More than two-thirds of those studied do not take advantage of 'off-peak' rates. Less than ten per cent of mobile users that switch off phones do so to avoid incoming calls. Ten per cent of mobile users are using 'free' handsets, 33 per cent of Indian mobile users bought second-hand handsets. Fixed, mobile and public access is perceived to be more affordable by rural users as against urban users. Mobile is perceived to be more affordable amongst Indian respondents. Pre-paid mobile is used by 83 per cent of mobile owners in the sample.
The Commonwealth has launched a new initiative to take information technology to underdeveloped countries that need it most. The initiative 'Commonwealth Connects' aims to bridge the digital divide that leaves large numbers of people in many vulnerable Commonwealth countries cut off from the information flow. The Commonwealth is a group of 53 nations that were once a part of the British Empire. Its members include some developed countries like Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, strongly developing countries such as India, South Africa and Malaysia, but also very small Pacific and Caribbean states struggling to be a part of the world economy and information network. The 'Commonwealth Connects' programme will seek primarily to ensure that "all developing countries have good ICT (information and communication technologies) policies," Devindra Ramnarine, head of the programme told IPS Friday. "It will seek to make sure that these policies are in line with national development goals, and can be implemented." The Commonwealth will also use its portal to "share intellectual capital among member countries" by making instances of best practice available to others, Ramnarine said. If, for example, there is already a good IT system on taxation developed within one country, it would be placed on the portal for others to benefit from. Both these are low-cost steps, and the Commonwealth needs them to be low- cost. The Commonwealth programme has been launched with very limited funds, no more than 200,000 pounds (375,000 dollars), with another 700,000 pounds pledged.
But the programme also plans to use some of this money and to raise more funds to take on particular projects. The first project of the programme, 'Rebuilding After The Tsunami: Using ICTs for Change', "will create a web-based platform to provide greater access to vital information and encourage ongoing exchanges between numerous civil society organisations, governments and citizens," the Commonwealth said in a statement Thursday. "It will complement existing reconstruction efforts in India, Sri Lanka and other countries affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami," the statement added. Other 'Commonwealth Connects' projects will involve the provision of radio-based business training for women in Cameroon to help them engage professionally in micro enterprise, and training to refurbish computers donated by Caribbean governments and citizens for distribution in schools in other Commonwealth countries. "These programmes can directly address the digital divide, but also raise the profile of the programme and help us attract more funds," Ramnarine said. "These projects are intended to show how we can organise, and the kind of things we want to do." "This programme will provide concrete assistance for the development of ICTs in least developed countries of the Commonwealth," Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon said in a statement. "It will enable them to enter the information age fully equipped to compete effectively in the global marketplace."
The initiative follows talks on the digital divide at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Malta last year where it was recognised that information technology offers opportunities "to overcome the constraints of remoteness, small size and other factors which have acted as obstacles to development," the Commonwealth statement said. The Commonwealth has instituted a steering committee to oversee the initiative. The committee is headed by Maltese Foreign Minister Dr Michael Frendo. Access to communication technology parallels advancement on the human development index, according to reports presented at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Malta last year. And though it has limited resources, the Commonwealth programme plans to use common connections by way of the English language and institutions to make a difference. An international summit to promote ICTs for development within the Commonwealth will be held in India early next year. Beside governments, the summit will draw the private sector. "We want the private sector involved, and find ways of developing programmes that can also be commercially attractive for them," Ramnarine said. (by Sanjay Suri)
The annual Computex show (Taipei, June 6-10) usually promises a sneak preview of the latest products and hottest trends in the IT industry. At this year's show, however, it seems there were fewer companies pushing the latest IT and digital home innovations."We find improvements in technologies and products, but left the show concluding that the second half of this year will lack hot products," commented Dan Heyler, research analyst for Merrill Lynch & Co Ltd in Hong Kong. According to a government research firm, Taiwanese companies made 98% of the world's motherboards, 30% of desktop computers, 82% of laptops, and 72% of LCD monitors last year. Four Taiwan-based companies - Asustek, ECS, MSI, and Gigabyte - dominate the global supply of PC motherboards and graphics cards. For the past few years, Computex has been where Intel and AMD try to generate attention and revenue for their latest CPUs. This year's show highlighted the continuing transition of desktop and notebooks from 32-bit single core processors to 64-bit dual core platforms.
Intel, AMD Intel proved that it can regain some of the market share it has lost to AMD in the past few years. At Computex, the company rolled out its P965 Express chipset, previously named Broadwater, to work with the new Core 2 Duo desktop processor, known as Conroe. The new chipset is among one of the few product launches Intel has slated for the rest of the year. Intel was expected to roll out its Woodcrest server chip in late June, while the new Meron notebook chip is slated to be launched in August. AMD came to Computex with some momentum behind it. A few weeks before the show, Dell announced that it would for the first time use AMD CPUs for its desktop PCs. Acer is making a major commitment to AMD with its new line of high-end Ferrari notebooks at Computex. AMD also showcased its new AM2 CPUs, which are the first to use DDR2 DRAM memory. To counter the Intel Viiv, which aims to integrate the desktop PC with living room entertainment, AMD launched its own media PC platform at Computex. AMD sampled its new Live! platform with OEMs with vendors such as Acer, Alienware, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Gateway, HP, Sahara, and Tsinghua Tongfang.
MP3, PMP, LCD With Apple dominating the portable digital music player market, most Taiwan vendors could only offer cheap knockoffs of the latest MP3 and PMP (portable media player) at the Computex show. One serious contender in the PMP race is a company known for its memory products. Kingston Technology showcased a PMP, which it said would be launched in Asia in August. According to a company spokesman, the K-PEX will come in two versions: 1GB and 2GB, with the lower capacity device selling for around US$120-130 and US$170-180, respectively. The K-PEX comes with a 2-inch LCD color screen and can offer playback in AVI, MPEG 1, MPEG 2, MPEG 4, Windows Media Video, ASF, MP3, Windows Media Audio, Ogg, and WAV audio and video formats. It also functions as a photo album that can display text files and JPEG files. Meanwhile Mitac unveiled its MIO 269+ GPS device with a 3.5-inch color transflective touch-sensitive LCD display that supports 320 x 240 resolution, with 65K colors and QVGA resolution in landscape mode. The unit comes with a 2.5GB hard drive with about 500MB available. For extra storage, users can buy an extra memory card to use with the SD/MMC card slot. The MIO 269 runs on a 300MHz Intel Xscale 300MHz CPU, has 64MB of RAM and a rechargeable 1350mAh Lithium-ion battery.
HD DVD vs Blu-ray Acer is Taiwan's most recognized global PC brand. The company has jumped into the HD DVD vs Blu-ray fray by rolling out a notebook PC with an HD DVD drive. It is unclear whether the high-end Aspire 9800 notebook will ever make it to store shelves. HD DVD is one of two next-generation DVD formats vying to replace the current DVD discs. Another unusual feature of the Aspire 9800 is its 20.1-inch LCD screen. According to Acer, the monitor's panel delivers image on par with some of the best LCD monitors for desktop computers. It also features twin 120GB hard-disk drives, NVidia GeForce 7600 graphics, a TV tuner, and support for various audio technologies including Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect. Acer's new machine costs about US$2,700 and weighs about 17 pounds. BenQ and Asustek showcased their Blu-ray drives at the show. Although both companies were vague about the exact shipment dates for the devices, the product launches represent a major boost for the Blu-ray standard. (by Van Tran)
India has outstripped China and Russia in information technology (IT) race, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday. India ranks 40th as per the Global Information Technology Report, ahead of China (50th rank) and Russia (72nd), Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Shakeel Ahmad said in a written reply. "The Global Information Technology Report's Readiness Index gives the degree of preparedness of a nation or community to participate in and benefit from ICT developments," he said. India is ranked at 40th position out of 115 member countries. Government has formulated a proposal for establishing one lakh plus Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enabled Common Services Centres (CSCs) predominantly in rural areas across the country, he said. "These CSCs would have the flexibility to offer a mix of services (both Government and non-Government, including localised servies) that may be needed by the local community," he said. E-GOVERNANCE: To another question, he said the Department of Information Technology has allocated Rs 300 crore for e-governance projects in 2005-06, up from Rs 215 crore in 2004-05. "There is no Central pooling of funds for the implementation of e-governance projects. Concerned ministries or departments are expected to use their respective budget heads," he said.
p align="left">PCs for the Poor: Ultimate Solution or Scam of the Century?
At the 2005 World Economic Forum in Switzerland a soft-spoken academic made an announcement that sent seismic waves across the computer industry. Nicholas Negroponte, then director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, spoke of making laptops available at US$100 for schoolchildren in developing nations. The price was not the only big news. Negroponte named companies that had agreed to collaborate on what would become the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project. Notably, the list did not include Microsoft and Intel, the world's largest software and microchip manufacturers, respectively. Instead, the laptop would use a processor from Advanced Micro Devices and an operating system based on Linux, whose code is freely available for anyone to modify and distribute.
The technology race A cascade of announcements followed. In November 2005, Negroponte demonstrated the first prototype at the UN's World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia. Microsoft soon responded. At the January 2006 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, United States, Bill Gates unveiled his company's answer: a prototype cellphone that could be turned into a computer by connecting it to a TV and keyboard. Microsoft touted its Cellular PC as a cheaper and more practical alternative, since it relied on components already in use. Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer told The New York Times, "everyone is going to have a cellphone ＃ in places where TVs are already common, turning a phone into a computer could simply require adding a cheap adaptor and keyboard." In February, leading Taiwanese microchip manufacturer Via showed off prototypes it has developed for its PC-1 initiative, which aims to enable a billion people to connect to the Internet using cheap and energy-efficient notebook and desktop computers. Then in May, Intel's chief executive officer Paul Otellini launched his company's foray into the low-cost computing arena with EduWise, a US$330-400 'education notebook PC' aimed at developing nations. Intel spokesperson Mike Green says EduWise has an advantage over the OLPC laptop in that it can accommodate more standard software and tools. Its hardware will be almost identical to that of regular computers. Moreover, it will use Microsoft's Windows operating system, which runs about 90 per cent of the world's personal computers and is compatible with more software applications than most other operating systems. Negroponte's US$100 laptop, with its trimmed-down hardware, has drawn criticism from Otellini. "We do not think you [can] cross the digital divide with old technology," he told The New York Times in May. "[EduWise] doesn't need exotic technology and it runs real applications." These are not the first attempts to provide affordable computing for the poor. Back in 2003, Advanced Micro Devices introduced its Personal Internet Communicator, a relatively cheap box that could be used to access the Internet when it was connected to a screen and a keyboard. But it couldn't be used as a word processor, and it cost US$400 〞 both major weaknesses. The company ended up pulling the plug and partnering with Negroponte instead.
p align="left">Google Sees a Mobile Future in Asia
As Google looks to conquer the emerging markets of Asia, Deep Nishar, its head of wireless products, is turning the focus of the company from its PC roots to mobile phones in its bid for global ubiquity - and tackling criticism for censorship along the way. In the search giant's established markets its accepted guise is as a mostly white, blank web page with a search bar located at the heart of the PC screen. As it looks to charge headlong into fast growing Asian markets such as China and India, Mr Nishar argued that it could well be the mobile phone, not computers that become the device of choice for accessing information in these countries. His statistics are persuasive. There are more than 2bn mobile phones worldwide and about 1bn PCs. In emerging countries the number of internet-connected PCs are often limited, and certainly not in every household and office, but mobile phones seem to be in everyone's hand. China Mobile now claims to be the world's largest wireless operator by number of subscribers. It has more than 200 million customers, while Vodafone has 186 million customers worldwide despite being a much more global business. Furthermore, there are already in the vicinity of 440m mobile handsets in China - close to the total in the US and Europe combined, according to Mr Nishar.
And India has about 100m handsets in a market growing at some 5m a month. "It is fair to assume that accessing the internet or data services could well be primarily done through these devices," he said. "We believe that mobile is the next big opportunity for Google." In countries where there is limited access to media, especially trusted sources, the use of mobile phones to access foreign news is becoming increasingly important. When Google News first launched on mobile in English, the company saw an unexpected surge of access from English-speaking Nigeria. And when it launched a service in French, there was similar spike from some former French colonies such as the Ivory Coast. "Mobile users are looking for trusted sources - they want to 'find', not 'browse', as is often the case with PC users," said Mr Nishar. "Mobile queries are often of a more direct, urgent nature. "This is something that the BBC has also found with its WAP-based mobile internet service. According to its July figures, Africa - especially Nigeria - dominated international usage, accounting for 61% of traffic outside the UK. Slow, unreliable landlines, making for poor internet connections, is also a factor in the popularity of mobile access outside the US and Europe. Generating revenue - something Google has become extremely adept at via its PC-based search service - from mobile search services is not easy.
However, Mr Nishar said Google's services are making money, in test form, from mobile text ads in the Japanese market. For Mr Nishar's global Google mobile dream to become a reality, the company needs help. Mobile search and services are still in their infancy and, he argued, investment must come before the grab for profits. "Mobile is still in the investment phase and it requires the major players in the handset business, the mobile network operators and the content providers to continue to invest," he said. An informal Google company motto outlined by founder Sergey Brin at the time of its launch in the 90s was "Don't be evil". Launching a censored version of its website in China would appear to go against that principle, but Google argues that offering some information is better than none at all. "This issue is the same for any device - mobile or PC - and we operate by the standards of the country in which the laws are being set," said a Google spokesman. "The balance is that as mobile search grows in the developing world, access to a wider range of information expands. Is it better to be operating there with limitations, or not providing any access at all?" Pressure has recently been heaped on technology companies operating in China by Human Rights Watch, which claimed that many web firms had become complicit in political repression.
The New York-based campaign group called the policies of Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft "arbitrary, opaque and unaccountable" and said users deserved to know more about the way they operated. In a report published earlier this month, the group said that it was "ironic that companies whose existence depends on freedom of information and expression have taken on the role of censor, even in cases where the Chinese government makes no specific demands for them to do so". For Google's part, it still offers unrestricted access for Chinese users to information through the Google.com site, although it is not available in all parts of the country. The restricted version is the Chinese domain site at Google.cn
TThe six member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have vowed to enhance international information security and eliminate possible dangers of using information and communication technologies for criminal or terrorist purposes. The heads of state of Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan signed a statement on international information security yesterday during the summit. They believe information technologies have opened up huge potentials for human development but there is a possible danger for the technologies to be used for criminal, terrorist, military or political purposes that run counter to the maintenance of international security. The negative impact of using information and communication technologies in a destructive way by criminals "may cause a catastrophe for the entire world tantamount to that resulted from the use of weapons of mass destruction," reads the statement, which was signed by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, President Hu Jintao, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov and Uzbek President Islam Karimov. They said that it is imperative for all countries to step up their efforts on information security through bilateral, regional and international cooperation. "Only with well-coordinated and complementary measures taken by all the countries, can the current challenges and threats to information security be effectively dealt with," they said in the document. The six countries have decided to establish an expert group amongst themselves to formulate an action plan for international information security and define ways to solve relevant problems
What: Celebrating ITU＊s leading role in setting standards in communications: one day event to hear what some of the top executives from the world of ICT have to say about the future of this remarkable industry. When: 20 July 2006; Where: International Conference Centre Geneva, (CICG), Geneva; Why: In 2006, ITU celebrates its leading role in making the standards that have played a massive role in shaping the information and communication technologies (ICT) and services of today. In 1924/5, two technical committees were created to set standards regulating technical and operating questions for international long-distance telephony and telegraphy. Fifty years ago, in 1956, these two technical committees were merged to become CCITT (Consultative Committee for International Telegraphy and Telephony) which later became ITU-T, where all standards-setting activities of ITU were consolidated for wire and wireless networks. While celebrating the past achievements of ITU in the field of standardization, the event will be forward looking in focus. The morning will see keynote speeches from among others the Chairman of the Board of China Netcom and the CEO and President of NTT and CEO of Svyazinvest. In the afternoon there will be two executive round table discussions on the future of ICTs. The discussion panels will consist of CTOs and other senior experts from some of the world＊s major ICT companies, including Alcatel, Cisco, Deutsche Telekom, France T谷l谷com, KDDI, Korea Telecom, KPN, Nortel, Rostelecom, Siemens, Telef車nica and ZTE. Who: Study group chairs and experts attending the meeting on next generation networks 〞 global standards initiative (NGN-GSI) will be present. The event is free and open to any interested party but only a limited number of places are available, so please register online as soon as possible. An audio webcast of the entire event will be available here. Journalists interested in attending should contact the ITU Press Office.
Dubai-based World Development Forum has announced the launch of the Government Technology (GT) Summit & Exhibition 2006, in association with the UNDP and The League of Arab States, a three-day event on 3-5 September 2006 at the JW Marriot Hotel in Dubai. This event will focus on the theme of 'Integrated Secure Services to Government, Business & Citizens' and will provide a platform for senior IT decision-makers in the public sector throughout the Middle East to debate cohesive and practical strategies for the common good of the Arab world. ICT indicators in the Arab region are still weak. The UNDP introduced a new regional initiative namely, 'Information & Communities Technologies for Development in the Arab Region' (ICTDAR) to assist Arab States in harnessing ICT to reduce poverty, address digital divides and improve both public administration performance and private sector hold and expansion. As an integral part of their objectives, an e-Governance programme was launched to provide policy advice to Arab government, to establish a regional e-Governance Institute (REGI). The GT Summit programme will address the most challenging issues faced by regional governments. This invitation-only event will target high-level government ministerial officials in communications, commerce, education, finance, health, infrastructure and public works.
SINGAPORE : Small- and medium-sized businesses across Southeast Asia, including Singapore, are on track to spend US$630 million on data storage-related investments in this year alone. Storage network professionals at a seminar in Singapore on Tuesday say the industry growth outlook remains strong. They add that markets like Singapore can look into adopting standards and training programmes to help its information technology professionals ride the growth. Economic growth and emerging regulations across Southeast Asia are driving growth in the data storage industry. Industry professionals say that even smaller companies are now recognising the need to stay competitive by having faster access to business and customer information offline, as well as providing services online. Said Vincent Franceschini, chairman (strategic alliances committee), Storage Networking Industry Association, "Areas like Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand are really seeing SMBs, SMEs investing in their IT infrastructure because of their business development. Governments of the Asian area are starting to impose certain rules on how data centre and IT infrastructure ought to be managed in order to preserve access to information over a certain period of time. In Singapore, we have several rules like the retention act, the limitation act."
Industry players say the strong growth prospects will lead to job opportunities for trained storage technicians, which are lacking here. They add that such skilled technicians are especially important in a market like Singapore, where consumers are quick to use electronic transactions for government-related matters. Said Rajesh Prabhakaran, chairman (governing committee), Storage Networking Industry Association, South Asia, "There is going to be an ever increasing demand for storage professionals in the Singapore's society. You need good professionals who can actually handle the storage and also the management challenges associated with storage. That is where I think education plays a big role. Education helps not only in terms of e-government but also in providing gainful employment in a growing industry." The association says it is in talks with Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority to develop a training and certification programme for storage professionals. Industry players say storage technologies have moved beyond just infrastructure systems to become more tied in with consumer applications and services. They say this means that solution providers will have to be more in tuned with end-users' habits, so that they can come up with next-generation technologies when it comes to storage needs. (by Jeana Wong)
Three parallel conferences, egov India 2006, Digital Learning India 2006 and Indian Telecentre Forum will bring together 700 high-level participants from public sector, private sector and academia from India and world over. The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Government of India and United Nations Development Program are co-organising three joint conferences on 23-25 August 2006 at Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi, India. These are egov India 2006, Digital Learning India 2006 and Indian Telecentre Forum 2006. Organized by the Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS) a leading research organization from India, the three joint conferences will see around 700 high-level domain experts, policy makers and industry leaders. With the theme "Vision 2010", these conferences would focus on the milestones to be achieved, strategies and steps to be adopted to leap forward to a much more developed and prosperous nation. It will provide a platform to deliver and deliberate on the realities and strategies of e-Governance, e-Learning and Rural Telecentres in India. It will have a grand inauguration, which will set the vision statement of the conference and will be graced by Kapil Sibal, Minister for Oceanography and Science and Technology, Government of India, Kraisorn Pornsutee, Permanent Secretary, Royal Thai Government, Kiran Karnik, NASSCOM President, Maxine Olson, Resident Representative, UNDP, Dr. M S Swaminathan, Chairman, MSSRF among others. The conferences are receiving sincere commitment and support from UNDP, USAID, The Asia Foundation, National Institute of Smart Government (NISG), GESCI, Telecentre.org, PLAN, Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion (KADO), SIDA and has got overwhelming response from private companies like SAP, Nortel, Alcatel, Adobe, Cisco Systems, Microsoft among many others
Joint conferences spread over 3 days in plenary as well as parallel tracks will have around 200 speakers who will talk on important issues reflecting present situation and future aspirations of e-Governance, e-Learning and Rural Telecentres in India. With eminent speakers such as R. Chandrashekhar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication, Government of India Subash Khuntia, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, Basheerahmad Shadrach, Senior Programme Officer, Telecentre.org, Wajahat Habibullah, Chief Information Commissioner, India, Neelam Dhawan, Managing Director, Microsoft, the conference will provide a great learning experience and a platform for sharing ideas. The ICT joint conference will host a 3-day exhibition that will showcase the latest e-solutions, services, initiatives and case studies from across Asia and beyond. Professional service providers, IT vendors, consulting firms, government agencies and national/international development organizations involved in the ICT, e-Governance and telecentres and education domain are participating in the exhibition.
Talk, listen, learn at the second annual Government Technology Forum. Organised by Public Sector Technology & Management, Asia＊s only government IT magazine, the Government Technology Forum is a two-day event bringing together senior regional administrators and policy-makers:26-27 October 2006, Raffles Convention Centre, Singapore, www.pstm.net/forum06.The unique format of the event - two days of roundtable discussions held behind closed doors in front of a Director- level audience of regional officials - provides an effective platform for a frank exchange of ideas and genuine peer learning. A series of networking opportunities throughout the day will enable delegates and speakers to build new relationships of lasting value. Delegates to Government Technology Forum 06 will benefit from interacting with twelve focused panel discussions, each of which features leading government officials and opinion-formers from around Asia Pacific and beyond. Key themes for Government Technology Forum 06 include: Optimising Enterprise Architecture for Government˙Calculating and managing operational risk˙Technology, transparency & the reform of governance˙Collaboration across tiers˙Citizen-centric government˙Proprietary vs. Open Source Software˙Public Private Partnership˙Securing government systems˙Procurement Policy
Landmark Digitization Framework agreed On 16 June 2006, an agreement was signed in Geneva that will form the basis of digital television and radio broadcasting in more than 100 countries for years to come. The Final Acts of ITU＊s 2006 Regional Radiocommunication Conference (RRC-06) is an international treaty covering the frequency bands 174每230 MHz and 470每862 MHz. It sets out a plan for ending almost all analogue broadcasts by 17 June 2015 in Africa, Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, parts of Asia, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. A future framework for digital broadcasting is assured.
Digital dividend Digital broadcasting offers more channels and increasing choice for consumers, as well as the possibility of mobile reception of video, internet and multimedia services. It is about six times more efficient than analogue broadcasting, allowing more data to be carried across less bandwidth. This not only means better quality and more applications in countries where services have started; it also promises a ※digital dividend§ that can help in connecting remote communities and in closing the digital divide. The dividend comes from the increased efficiency with which the radio spectrum is used, opening the way for innovative wireless technologies and potential new services. In this way, the plans produced by RRC-06 are a powerful and practical response in ITU＊s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU每R) to the goals of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). RRC-06 was the first treaty-making conference to be held by ITU since the conclusion of WSIS in November 2005.
More than 1000 delegates took part in the conference. More than 1000 delegates attended RRC-06, which began on 15 May. Under the chairman ship of Kavouss Arastehof the Islamic Republic of Iran, the conference held some 850 meetings and satisfied 70 493 requests (known as ※requirements§) for entry in the plan for digital broadcasting. It was also the first time that ITU had undertaken the planning of analogue and digital services, in single and multiple frequencies, all at the same time. Finding solutions was an enormously complicated task, but nevertheless the conference achieved all the objectives set out by the ITU membership. Almost every requirement was met, while fully complying with the Radio Regulations and a fundamental principle of ITU＊s Constitution that the Union should ※maintain and extend international cooperation＃ for the improvement and rational use of telecommunications of all kinds.§The reasons for this success lay in the careful preparation begun in 2002 and continued at the first session of the Regional Radiocommunication Conference in 2004. Also, on the sidelines of RRC-06, many discussions and negotiations took place among small groups of neighbouring countries, leading to agreements that were then approved by the plenary session of the conference. Overall, this process was aided by a strong spirit of consensus and cooperation among delegates. During the entire conference, it had never been necessary to take a vote on any contentious point.
The 6th Annual Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region (CIAPR VI) will take place in Shanghai, China, 18-19 October 2006, with the theme ※ICT for a Better Life: The Role of Local Government.§ The Forum will be co-organized and co-sponsored by the Shanghai Municipal People＊s Government and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force (UN/ICT/TF), the State Council Informatization Office of China, the Ministry of Information Industry of China, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), five successful CIAPR Forums have been held since 2000. With a focus on inclusion for the poor, innovative e-government solutions and tools, and engaging citizens＊ participation in the decision-making process, the 6th Forum will be composed of a plenary session, a number of parallel sessions and workshops, covering topics such as ICT and e-government development for all, creating a public value for citizens, enhancing participation and partnership with citizens, creating e-government toolkits (information technology & applications), and citizen-friendly e-government policies and cyber laws. The United Nations Public Service Awards, in the category of ICT Application and Local e-Government, will be presented by UNDESA to recognize outstanding achievement and contribution in local e-government applications. The Forum is expected to attract over 800 participants worldwide, including senior officials form the UN and from central and municipal governments of both developed and developing countries, CEOs of well-known IT companies, and famous experts and scholars of academia, international organizations and NGOs. Contact: The Regional Cooperation Office for City Informatization (RCOCI), Tel: (86-21) 6112 3736, Fax: (86-21) 6112 3739, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
DHAKA, Bangladesh -- AMARC Asia-Pacific 每 http://asiapacific.amarc.org/ 每 is part of an international non-governmental organisation serving the community radio movement, with almost 3,000 members and associates in 110 countries. The goal of the ※Association mondiale des radiodiffuseurs communautaires (World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, AMARC) is to "support and contribute to the development of community and participatory radio along the principles of solidarity and international cooperation".§AMARC Asia-Pacific was launched in February 2003 by the global meeting, AMARC 8, in Kathmandu. That meeting decided to officially establish AMARC Asia-Pacific," says Suman Basnet (37), AMARC Asia-Pacific's regional coordinator, based in Kathmandu. Adds Basnet, a former television man and documentary filmmaker himself: "It took us all this time till November 2005 to meet in Jakarta and do a regional assembly and elect the first official board of the region." AMARC's Asia-Pacific president is the Bangalore-based Ashish Sen, whose non-governmental organisation, called VOICES, now an APC member, has long been associated with the campaign for community radio in India. (See https://mail.sarai.net/mailman/listinfo/cr-india, a mailing list that has been pressing for this). Its deputy president is Sonia Randhawa from the Centre for Independent Journalism in Malaysia. She has initiated a community radio station that, due to difficulties in broadcasting from Malaysia, has set up its transmitter in neighbouring Indonesia, broadcasting over shortwave.
"There are some very progressive groups involved, and they also work with migrant workers (in Malaysia)," Basnet says. AMARC Asia-Pacific's treasurer Shane Elson, from Alternative Radio, Australia, is also vice-president of the Community Broadcasters Association in Australia (CBAA). "Our office (in Kathmandu, Nepal) is very small. We have only three people. A colleague who looks after finances, and a messenger, who helps us with running around and cleaning," says Basnet. But so far, AMARC Asia-Pacific has been able to mobilise nearly 200 members in the region. Basnet says the largest numbers, about 40, come from Indonesia, with members in Australia, Fiji, thirteen in Nepal, and three in the India and Bangladesh (VOICES, and two others), in a region that has not been very conducive to the idea of community radio, as Asia has long been accustomed to state-monopolised (and more recently, commercialised) broadcasting. AMARC Asia-Pacific accepts applications for two types of members. Voting members are community radio stations or an organisation earnestly planning to start such a station. Associate members are those supporting the idea. The latter cannot vote.
Blogs and search engines, the most active parts of China information industry, will become strictly supervised by the government. "As more and more illegal and unhealthy information spreads through the blog and search engine, we will take effective measures to put the BBS, blogs and search engines under control," said Cai Wu, director of the Information Office of the State Council, at a meeting held on Wednesday. China launched a project on February 21 to purify the environment of Internet and mobile communication network. According to a report made by the prestigious Qinghua (Tsinghua) University in Beijing, 36.82 million blog sites operate in China, and may exceed 60 million this year. "The market cannot develop without efficient management," said Cai, adding that the government will enhance research on the concerned technology and make entry standards for blog Websites. Last year, Chinese search engine users reached 97.06 million, accounting for 87.4 percent of Chinese Internet users, said iResearch Consultative Ltd. IResearch forecasts that the number will top 100 million this year. The Chinese internet search engine service providers formed a self-governing organization two years ago, refusing to support pornographic and obscene Websites. Wang Xudong, Minister of Information Industry, said the government plans to do more research on Internet security issues triggered by emergence of blogs and search engines.
The selection of the top ten young IT elites in Shanghai will open to expatriates for the first time. Young foreigners who have worked in the city for more than one year and have made achievements in the IT sector can now apply. The event, sponsored jointly by the Shanghai Municipal Committee of Youth League, Shanghai Municipal Informatization Commission, Shanghai Mobile Communications Co., Ltd and Wenhui Daily, will accept public votes via short-messages. Detailed information is available to the public by logging onto www.why.com.cn.
China's first regulation on online copyright, implemented on July 1, gives search engine operators some legal status and protection from copyright infringement claims, according to industry experts. "Under the regulation, search engines providing links can be exempted from copyright infringement claims," said Wang Bin, secretary general of the Online Copyright Alliance of the Internet Society of China. In September 2005, seven record companies accused Baidu.com, China's largest search engine, of offering free pirated downloads of songs. The claim triggered a spate of legal cases against search engine operators. However, the new regulation stipulates that Internet service providers which merely offer search services and links are not liable for copyright infringement if they remove links to pirated content at the request of copyright owners. However, if the search engines persist and provide links to pirated content, they would be deemed to share liability for infringement along with websites that offer the pirated content. "It means search engines would not be directly responsible for pirated products they provide links to," Wang explained. Government statistics show that China has over 111 million Internet users and Internet companies are beginning to focus on providing sound and image content. "Copyright has become a prominent issue for websites and laws and regulations are needed to guarantee the websites' legal right to provide content," Wang said.
He believed the new regulation would encourage Internet content providers to view intellectual property rights protection more seriously. Baidu.com welcomed the new regulation and believed it would give search engines a legal status and help promote cooperation with copyright owners. "Baidu hopes to enter into mutually beneficial cooperation agreements with record companies. The protection of online copyrights requires the coordination of the whole industrial chain," said Wang Dong, brand and marketing director of Baidu. Music searches are Baidu's most popular service after website searches. Last October, it launched an alliance with six record companies. That number has since increased to 30. The regulation spells opportunity and responsibility for search engines, according to He Qifeng, an analyst with the China Center for Information Industry Development. "It lays a framework for Internet service providers and clarifies their liabilities." But the regulation was hard to implement to some extent, He said. Due to the large number of pirate websites, copyright owners are finding it difficult to list them all, and even if they could, search engines might be reluctant to remove all the errant links, particularly if this affects general search results, He said."Search engines might find themselves in a dilemma then." However, Wang pointed out that if copyright owners fail to first inform the search engine operator of the infringement and chose to proceed immediately with legal action, the regulation gives no guidance to courts on how to rule in such cases.Wang said the Online Copyright Alliance would discuss the issue with Internet companies, and judicial and legislative departments.
The Copyright Union of the Internet Society of China wants to streamline copyright infringement notification procedures for internet companies in order to better protect online copyright. Copyright Union secretary general Wang Bin said here Wednesday that internet companies should have a quick and convenient means of notifying and processing copyright infringement. China's first regulation on online copyright, which took effect on July 1, requires copyright owners to inform internet service providers (ISPs) when infringements occur and request them to delete the link in question. However, there is no simple notification channel. Copyright owners do not know how to provide notification and what evidence to produce. ISPs find it hard to determine whether the link is authorized. "Since there is no single authentification organization, we have to spend a lot of time and energy checking whether the content is pirated or not and sometimes we cannot get the right answer," said Liang Zhixiang, director of the Baidu.com legal department. Copyright owners complain that they cannot list all the websites which steal their material as there are so many. Both ISPs and copyright owners hope to have a unified platform through which they can easily solve copyright disputes. Wang said her copyright union would create a database to list all authorized users of some important products such as frequently downloaded songs and movies. Government statistics show that China has over 123 million internet users and internet service providers are beginning to focus on providing sound and image content. "Copyright has become a big issue for websites. Laws and regulations are needed to guarantee the websites' legal right to provide content," said Wang.
BEIJING -- New rules issued by China's telecommunications regulator could create significant complications for foreign Internet companies operating in China as well as for Chinese Internet companies listed overseas, lawyers and analysts said. Just how much the measures, unveiled this week by the Ministry of Information Industry, will affect Internet companies in China could depend largely on the level of enforcement, experts said. The rules appear to target a complicated legal structure that has been widely used for years to enable foreign investment in the Chinese Internet industry. The new requirements come amid ballooning interest in the Internet in China, which boasts more than 120 million users, the second largest such population after that of the U.S. Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN service each launched operations in China last year, joining other big foreign Internet companies like Yahoo Inc. and eBay Inc. Numerous Chinese Internet companies, such as portal Web site operators Netease.com Inc. and Baidu.com Inc., have attracted foreign investors through listings on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The measures are aimed at strengthening control over foreign investment in "value added telecom services," a category that includes search engines and other Web sites. The rules require that local providers of such services own the domain names and trademarks that they use in China -- key pieces of intellectual property that are often controlled by foreign affiliates or investors.
Because China's laws limit direct foreign ownership of domestic companies that provide Internet content and related services, Chinese Web-site operators that want to sell shares overseas first establish a legal entity offshore, such as in the Cayman Islands. That entity owns the trademark, domain name, and other key intellectual property for the site. The Chinese Internet-content provider license and related licenses, meanwhile, are owned by one or more separate Chinese legal entities, which themselves are often controlled by top executives of the offshore companies but not by the companies themselves. The relationships between these offshore companies and their local operating affiliates are governed by contracts. Generally, the local operator collects revenue in China from sales of online ads or other sources, which it passes on to the offshore company in exchange for the license to use the trademarks, domain names, and other intellectual property. Lawyers say most or all foreign companies that operate in China or have bought into local companies use similar legal structures, but their arrangements generally aren't made public. Chinese Internet companies that list overseas, however, must describe their structures in detail in their regulatory filings. Nasdaq-listed Baidu.com, a major Chinese search-engine operator, for example, stated in the prospectus for its initial public offering last year that it licenses its domain names, trademarks, and certain software to a Chinese affiliate that is owned by two top Baidu executives.
Google ran into questions about its structure in China this year. In February the MII said it was investigating the licensing of the U.S. search-engine giant, which had recently launched a Chinese Web site. MII didn't elaborate on the nature of the investigation, but local news reports said it centered on whether Google had obtained proper licenses. A Google spokeswoman said at the time that Google's partnership with Ganji.com, a local Internet content provider, provided Google with the required licenses. New rules issued by China's telecom regulator may require foreign and domestic companies operating in China's Internet industry to revise their structures. * Domain names used by Internet companies and other value added telecom (VAT) providers must be owned by the local operators. * Trademarks used by VAT providers must be owned by the local operator or its shareholders. * Applications for new VAT licenses that fail to meet the specified requirements can be rejected. * Existing VAT license holders whose structures don't comply with rules could have their licenses withdrawn.
China is to issue new regulations against websites which broadcast short films without state permission, according to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT). The administration has listed the well-known websites of Sina, Sohu and Netease as authorized providers of online video programs. But others face an uncertain fate as the administration will inspect the online video contents they release. SARFT has emphasized strict measures will be enforced to prevent any malpractice. The new regulations will be unveiled in late August or September, despite a rising popularity in online short films. The shorts, often parodies of classic movies or events that occur in everyday life, have spread quickly on the Internet, provoking controversies on morality and intellectual property right protection. A 10-minute video using clips from the 1974 patriotic film about the Chinese revolution "Sparkling Red Star" is now under the spotlight. Pan Dongzi, a heroic boy in the original movie, has been converted to a popstar wannabe who competes in a CCTV (China Central Television) singing contest. The video attracted millions of clicks even before the opening of the month-long 12th CCTV singing contest, which is giving way to "Super Girls" and other popular shows employing the "American Idol" formula.
The parody turns the evil landowner who brutally exploited tenants to a silly judge taking backdoor bribes, and changes Pan's father from a Red Army soldier to the Beijing real estate tycoon Pan Shiyi. It features at the end the film cutter, Hu Daoge, a nickname actually expanding from another prankster Hu Ge. Hu Ge unexpectedly reaped a fame after posting online his parody of famed Chinese director Chen Kaige's latest epic "The Promise" earlier this year. Chen once threatened to sue him. But unlike the predecessor applauded among the public, the short film about singing contest has incurred severe criticism. Some commentators believe satire should not go too far and the distortion of heroes and China's revolutionary history is immoral and unacceptable. According to an online survey, more than 60 percent of web users who have watched it agree that parody should remain within bounds. Li Ming, a psychological consultant from northeast China's Jilin Province, noted that such spoofs will leave a negative impact on teenagers' ideas about the life and society. "Internet is a public space, and its users should be aware of and responsible for consequences by their online words and deeds," said Qi Si, a professor with the sociology department of the Jilin University.
China Unicom, the smaller of the two cellular operators on the Chinese mainland, has been awarded a licence to build a mobile network in Macao based on third-generation (3G) technology. The firm is expected to invest 48 million Macao patacas (US$6 million) by the end of this year to upgrade its current 2G CDMA (code division multiple access) network in Macao to the 3G network based on the CDMA2000 1x standard. The 3G network will enable Unicom to offer services such as high-speed downloads and mobile Internet access as well as video calls to its subscribers. A spokesman for the parent of Hong Kong-listed China Unicom Ltd said Unicom is now also applying for a licence from the Macao Special Administrative Region to operate the 3G business. "We expect to secure the licence in October, which will enable Unicom to start signing up local customers," he told China Daily. In 2007-08, Unicom will increase its investment in the 3G network by no less than 40 million Macao patacas (US$5 million). Unicom was awarded a service licence by the Macao government last March enabling it to operate a 2G CDMA mobile network in Macao, defeating four other bidders including SmarTone Telecommunications Holdings and Macao's leading operator Companhia de Telecomunicacoes de Macao. This made Unicom the first mainland telecom operator to offer mobile services outside the mainland.
BEIJING - Chinese regulators will soon announce a digital TV standard for the world's biggest television market, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The system will apply to terrestrial, satellite and cable broadcasts in China, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing Wang Xiaojie, director of the technology department of State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. The government has said that it would start rolling out digital television this year. The technology offers sharper pictures and better sound. Its compressed signals also use narrower segments of broadcast spectrum, allowing for more channels. China has about 400 million television viewers, according to industry estimates. It is also one of the leading producers of digital television sets. China already has 4.13 million households that receive digital pay-TV channels, and companies that serve them will be required to switch to the new standard, Xinhua said. The country has more than 120 licensed pay television channels, according to the government. It said earlier that some 30 million households were expected to sign up for digital pay channels in coming years. China has been testing digital cable TV since 2003 in 49 areas, with more than 1 million subscribers, according to earlier news reports.
Minister of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Mohammad Soleimani said here on Friday that the ministry is pursuing the policy of further lowering the prices of mobile phone SIM cards. ※He general and main policy of the ICT Ministry is to cut down prices of SIM cards,※ he said in response to a question whether prices will fall further. He told Fars news agency that the ministry will also try to reduce prices of other telecommunications services. ＆We will try to diversify our services as well,※ he said, adding, however, that the extent to which prices would fall is not clear at present. The minister further noted that telecoms and postal services tariffs will not increase this year, adding that the ministry has also refused to propose a rise in tariffs for the March 2006-2007 period. He said the agreement between the ICT Ministry and three general contractors (GC) to expand mobile phone network was not favorable. ＆These three GCs have had delays, which have resulted in losses,※ he said, adding that the ministry has created a project management team to study the projects on a weekly basis. He added that the ICT Ministry will not sign any contract with GCs, adding that the contractors have failed to meet their obligations some 11 months after signing the contract and receiving the payment. Soleimani said the three GCs are supposed to install 4,600 base transceiver stations (BTS) nationwide.
The cabinet has ratified the State Technical and Executive System, paving the way for further organizing project management systems for investments. ILNA quoted a report by the Cabinet Information Dissemination Council＊s Secretariat as saying that the system includes managing and creating investment projects, drawing management-related documents and making investment projects operational. It said the system, announced officially by First Vice President Parviz Davoodi, was devised on a proposal by Management and Planning Organization (MPO). The State Technical and Executive System is a compilation of principles, processes and documents pertaining to managing, creating and implementing investment projects in the frameworks of development plans, it said, adding that the system takes into account the mechanisms for improving productivity and efficiency of investment projects. It further noted that the system has devised such mechanisms in compliance with Iran＊s economic, social, cultural and environmental situation. The system also considers quality, cost, time and safety factors in its pursuit for maximum safeguarding of national interests in investment projects.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad highlighted the need for prioritizing efforts to launch a nationwide computerized network, according to ISNA. ※Our neighboring states have a favorable attitude toward the initiative of setting up a regional network. They have expressed willingness to join the network in light of the fact that the global network is insecure and too risky. We might get disconnected from that network at any time,※ the president said in his address to managers and officials of Ministry of Information Communication and Technology here on Monday. President Ahmadinejad observed that ICT is one of the most essential and elaborate fields that the society benefits from. ※It is subject to continuous changes, and is met with new visions and ideas on a daily basis. Communication links all other sectors as a chain.※ Pointing to the covenant read at the meeting, the chief executive said, ※The covenant can be summarized in two words which are being ＊virtuous＊ and ＊service-minded.＊ This provides the key to success and prosperity both in this world and the hereafter.※ President Ahmadinejad advised the ICT managers, ※You should look into the world＊s latest technology advancements. Not necessarily to get your hands on them but to create the capacity to produce them over here as well.
You should eye the zenith and make optimum use of the existing hardware and software capacities to reach your peak.※ The president pointed to the import of 10 million mobile phone handsets each year and observed, ※I am convinced that Iranian experts have the ability to manufacture them domestically. We need to support Iranian manufacturers. As for many imported gadgets, we barely even use 10 percent of their features. It is also possible to manufacture many other telecommunication equipment such as those used in cellular and landline phone systems. By producing them over here, we can make optimum use of the existing potentials.※ On cost reductions in different sectors, he said, ※Great achievements were made last year as part of efforts to cut down costs in communication services by the ICT Ministry. For instance, it reduced SIM card tariffs by up to 800,000 rials. This provides ample proof that it is always possible to cut costs in any sector through efficient management.※ In conclusion, the president reiterated, ※You can be innovative in all spheres. You can benefit from the scientific capacities of domestic universities. But care must be taken not to spend research budget on consultation projects.※
Finding real-time traffic data is becoming less unusual thanks to nav units popping up more frequently in vehicles nowadays, but real-time data about potential road hazards, pedestrians in the way, and other random tidbits that could prevent a serious headache (or worse) isn't quite there yet. Japan's National Police Agency is on the ball, however, and hopes to take the currently installed Vehicle Information and Communication System (VICS) to the next level (and make sure that more than 10 percent of the population actually takes advantage of it). The Driving Safety Support System (DSSS) is being developed by the Universal Traffic Management Society of Japan (UTMS), and aside from creating a maze of acronyms to keep track of, it plans on utilizing two-way infrared beacons -- installed about 5.5 meters above the street -- to analyze real-time information about street conditions, hazards, and pedestrians who aren't paying attention.
The beacons will reportedly beam the data to your in-car navigation system, and depending on your specific location, will be tailored to address intersections and crossroads that you are actually approaching. Approximately 20 types of subsystems could be installed by 2008, with 5 of these currently being tested -- the beacons are placed in "accident-prone" areas, and are each designed to help prevent a certain type of mishap, be it a rear-end collision, right-turn fender bender, or flattening of an innocent bystander or two. While this sounds like an excellent way to curb vehicular chaos in a nation where traffic is becoming a serious issue, we can't exactly envision this taking off like the UTMS probably hopes -- it's going to take quite awhile before a significant amount of drivers can rock navigation systems in their rides, and who's to say that all this pertinent information demanding the driver's attention won't become a hazard in and of itself?
Korea ranked third in terms of the degree of informatization among 50 countries, according to the informatization white paper soon to be released by the National Computerization Agency. The state-funded think tank said Korea, classified in the second-tier group until 1998, jumped to the seventh position in 2004; rose to third in 2005 and maintained that position till this year. Sweden came first, followed by the United States, Korea, Switzerland and Hong Kong. Sweden lagged slightly behind in broadband penetration. Korea's rise is largely because it topped three categories - the number of broadband subscribers, cable TV subscribers and Internet users. The result clearly demonstrates that Korea is an "indisputable" No. 1 in information and technology sector, the NCA said, along with its No. 1 status in digital opportunity index, No.5 position for electronic government readiness index designated by the United Nations.
The national informatization index, as calculated by the NCA, is considered a key yardstick for measuring a country's degree of information infrastructure and services. It is based on statistics offered by the International Telecommunications Union. Categories include spread of computers, Internet, telecommunications, broadcasting and the number of Internet users, telephone lines, wireless subscribers and cable TV users. "Korea's level of informatization has reached to a maturation point, as the figures no longer represent explosive, double-digit growth after 2002. We'll publish the white paper for the country's better preparedness for the next-coming ubiquitous era," Kim Chang-gon, chief of the NCA said. The 482-page white paper will be available at bookstores across the country from August. It will also be offered in PDF files and an e-book.
The government hopes to make Korea a test lab for mobile phones to help boost exports of domestic phones, the Ministry of Information and Communications said yesterday. If the infrastructure is put in place, all products can be tested in Korea regardless of their bandwidth; currently, countries use different bandwidths or radio frequencies, making it difficult for exporters to test their products in Korea. Information Minister Roh Jun-hyong met with heads of cell phone makers yesterday to discuss problems in the market and how to solve them. According to the ministry, Mr. Roh proposed that the government and large companies invest to create a mobile test lab that can be used by all mobile phone makers. The participants agreed to the plan, the ministry said. The Information Ministry will draw up a basic plan next month. Phone company chiefs asked for more government investment and support in developing new mobile communication technology. They also proposed that digital multimedia broadcasting, or DMB, service be expanded to nationwide coverage to vitalize the domestic mobile phone market. The newest mobile phones support DMB, but the service is not available in all cities.
At the meeting, Samsung Electronics President Lee Ki-tae pointed out that Korean firms should look ahead. "Korean companies have technological competitiveness, so we should prepare for the next-generation mobile communications, such as 3.5G and 4G," he said. Park Mun-hwa, president of LG Electronics, said that parts are important. "In the past, new functions and new technology were reflected in the price of the phone, which raised profit. But now competitiveness in parts is an important factor in the market," he said.
The Internet is an increasingly attractive shopping place for Koreans; Transactions have increased in number each of the past five years. But with the increased volume has come an increase in counterfeit goods. The Seoul office of the Korea Customs Service wants that ended, announcing yesterday that it has signed an agreement with several Internet sites that host retailers. Those "Internet malls" include Interpark, Gmarket and Daum Onket. The customs office said the sites have agreed to share information on suspected counterfeit goods offered by sellers in those malls. The site operators have reportedly agreed to alert customs officials when they spot a suspicious offering and to report monthly on the volume of transactions on their sites. Seoul Customs said it would award prizes to employees at the Internet shopping sites who help uncover illegal online transactions involving fake goods produced locally or imported illegally into this country. It also promised that the program would be expanded to additional sites. "The byproduct of increased Internet shopping transactions has been a growing number of fake products sold in cyberspace," said an official at Seoul Customs. "We hope this deal will allow the two sides to share more information on fake production and to control the counterfeit market more effectively."
According to the National Statistical Office, Internet shopping transactions have jumped from 3.3 trillion won ($3.4 billion) in 2001 to nearly 11 trillion won last year. Seoul Customs seized 214 million won worth of counterfeit products offered on the Internet in 2001, but the figure soared to more than 21 billion won last year. Through July, Seoul customs officials have confiscated 20 billion won worth of fake goods this year. In a case in February, the customs agency caught a 40-year-old man who made 1.5 billion won selling fake Chanel purses and Christian Dior watches made in China. Earlier this month, customs found a 35-year-old man selling fake Puma sneakers and clothing at about half the price of genuine goods. The merchandise, customs officials said, had been smuggled from the United States. Seoul Customs said 115 agents would focus on Internet sales of drugs, clothes and jewelry in a campaign that would continue until Nov. 15.
Next year the internet tariffs are going to be lowered again. Kuanyshbek Yesekeyev, deputy chairman of the Agency for computerisation and communication of RK, has stated this today, July 19, at a round table "Development of the e-government of RK and Kaznet," Kazakhstan Today correspondent reports. "Next year the issue of reduction of prices for the internet services provided by "Kazakhtelecom" will be reviewed, - Mr. Yesekeyev has said. He has reminded that this year there has already been one reduction of prices for the internet services provided by "Kazakhtelecom" and this year the prices are going to be reduced once more - by 25%. "The reduction of prices for the internet services provided by "Kazakhtelecom" next year is expected to be at the level of 23%," - he has specified noting that it concerned all users. "Other providers will have to automatically reduce prices for their services, because "Kazakhthelecom" occupies a dominating position at that market," - he believes.
Mongolian Customs Organization completed a meter plan on IT together with the specialists of the Republic of Korea. The plan will be carried out with the support by the ADB under the project "Customs Reform and Modernization in Mongolia". Thanks to it, the Mongolian Customs Organization that successfully implemented the information system GAMAS will meet the standards of international customs services in developed countries.
"Changes introduced to the Tax Code of the republic, regulate the issues of taxation of certain categories of companies. In particular, amendments introduced to the Article 71 of the code exempt National Television and Radio Company of Uzbekistan, as well as companies and organisations included in its structure from the tax on value added," President's press service said Thursday. It is noted that the law adopted by the Legislative Chamber and approved by the Senate of the republic had been signed by the President of Uzbekistan the day earlier and published by local media. The press service reminded that the amendments were developed in accordance with the Presidential Resolution of 27 December 2005 "On the forecast of key macroeconomic indicators and parameters of State Budget of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the year 2006" and the Decree "On measures on reformation and development of independent television and radio broadcast channels." Meanwhile, it was noted that the additions introduced to the Tax Code do not exempt microfirms and small companies from the payment of taxes on value added.
However, the payers of single tax payment are given the right to independently reduce the amount of the single tax payment by the amount of VAT paid to the budget. At the same time, the size of the amount deducted should not exceed 50% of the total amount of the single tax payment due to payment to the budget. Press service said that the law on introduction of additions to the law "On population's employment", housing and tax codes also signed by the head of the state also entered into force. "Additions introduced will allow to involve unemployed population in the production activity, increase the income of families, raise the profitability of the large industrial objects through the organisation of the production of certain types of component parts, and finished products and services using home-based labour. Moreover, amendments will improve the conditions for the attraction of a wide range of companies to the development of cooperation with home-based workers through provision of benefits and preferences, eliminate bureaucratic barriers in the use of housing space for home-based labour," press service emphasised.
The law was prepared in accordance with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan of 5 January 2006 "On measures to stimulate the expansion of cooperation between large industrial objects and services production on the base of development of home-based labour." For the purpose of legislatively support of the new tax benefits introduced, Article 92 of the Tax Code is expanded with the provision envisioning the fact that legal entities that transfer their equipment, tools and other facilities for non-refundable use to the citizens engaged in the home-based labour in accordance with the established order to fulfil works based on orders will be freed from tax on property for the period of their utilisation. Meanwhile, it is worth noting that if the home-based labour is performed in the living quarters, this does not require such space to be transferred to the category of non-living quarters.
It has been said that the wheels of the market turn on an invisible track called trust. Especially so in Indonesia where there are no laws to protect consumers from electronic errors made by banks, automatic teller machines or through Internet banking. While the wheels run smoothly most of the time -- on trust, between banks and customers and between different financial institutions, the lack of these laws can cause problems. Their absence mean that most people here are unable to buy goods and services over the Internet using local credit cards, because the electronic systems used here are not judged to be safe enough by most overseas financial institutions. To overcome this problem, the government recently proposed a Law on Information and Electronic Transactions to the House of Representatives. The draft that is currently being discussed by a House special committee will spell out the standard legal grounds for all electronic transactions and allow the country's banks to meet overseas requirements. It would make all transactions and all persons or institutions involved in electronic transactions subject to the law, and ensure these transactions are legally protected. Two years in the making, the draft clearly defines terms such as information technology, computers and electronic information, signatures, and certificates -- all requirements for international certification.
It would also create a certification body to trust mark all companies involved in electronic transactions, and with the power to audit errant firms. House committee head Soeparlan told The Jakarta Post last week the committee had distributed the draft bill to the business community and wider public and had already received numerous responses. "We have summoned several important institutions and community groups to hear what they have to say about the draft. Their input will help us to formulate the final resolution of the law," he said after a hearing with officials from the Jakarta Stock Exchange (JSX). Soeparlan said the law would help meet the public demand for goods and services bought electronically and would be an important way to gain the trust of foreign investors and generate more inter-market transactions with local bourses. JSX chairman Erry Firmansyah said the contents of the draft would largely accommodate the demands of capital markets but said there were still some flexibility issues that needed to be addressed. "Information technology is advancing rapidly. Therefore, I suggest the regulation be designed in a way so it can adapt to new technological advancements," Erry said. He said the capital markets were currently implementing the Straight-Through Processing (STP) system, an advanced stock trading system that was more efficient, low cost and could accommodate higher transaction volumes. Soeparlan said the JSX was the last group the government would consult. He said the committee would recess before taking the draft law to a House plenary session next month.
MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Commission on Information and Communications Technology presented its proposed ICT roadmap last June 5, 2006 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ortigas, Pasig City, Philippines. Gathering nearly a hundred stakeholders from government, the private sector and civil society, the activity took place in the middle of a leadership transition within CICT. The proposed ICT roadmap is the output of a process started by former CICT chair Virgilio Pena, consolidating the strategies formulated by the Commission＊s four components, namely: Human capital development; e-Government; Business development and Information infrastructure. On the 1st of May, Pena was replaced by banker Ramon Sales. The draft begins with a progressive guiding principle of having a ※people centered, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities, and peoples to achieve the full potential in promoting development and improving their quality of life.§ While civil society affirmed such progressive language, it reiterated that the ICT sector should not be driven by the market, a position that appears to be supported by CICT＊s mission and vision, as well as programmes under business development and even universal access. As Aileen Familara of Isis International Manila asserted, ※It is not the role of the government to merely enable a good business environment. Instead, it should also concern itself with people＊s initiatives.§
The proposed ICT roadmap also articulated a reliance on the private sector in implementing a national broadband plan, which aims to connect 55 percent of rural villages by 2010, among others. Reuben Ravago of the Advanced Software Foundation opined that the government should ※reverse its perspective§. Instead of counting on the private sector which is poised to serve profitable areas, each local government unit should be given the resources ※to own the infrastructure that addresses its concerns and at the same time opens its network§ to other Linux User Groups. As a convener of civil society, APC-member Foundation for Media Alternatives compiled the initial set of inputs and submitted this to the CICT. These inputs were the outcome of the two preparatory meetings FMA organised on May 16, 2006 and June 1, 2006. The document lauds the efforts of the CICT in adopting an encouraging set of guiding principles and a multi-stakeholder process. But it also stressed the need for ※more references on development goals (not merely competitiveness)§ and a deeper understanding of an ※information society§. The document also pointed out that the consultation process has not been as broad and inclusive as it should be. Hence it recommended a series of consultations with more public interest groups, especially from outside Metro Manila.
The document likewise explained the need for a more proactive response from the government in providing access to ICTs, especially in the countryside, urging the CICT to further reach out to groups such as women and people with disabilities in order to make the Commission's community e-centers programme more relevant. It also recommended the waiving of licensing fees for community radios. Other recommendations include the redelegation of the ※.ph§ country code top level domain which has been arbitrarily managed by a private individual and a competition policy which can check vertical price squeezing and cross-subsidisation of services. The document also pushed for the adoption of free and open source software; the production of a Gender and Development Plan; and the adoption of a rights-based approach particularly in controversial legislative measures and emerging employment opportunities. As part of its commitment to a multi-stakeholder process and contribution to improve the proposed ICT roadmap, FMA is currently preparing for a national consultation process, which will be held within the third quarter of the year. This activity will culminate into a policy dialogue with the CICT leadership.
Davao City (12 August) -- We need tougher laws to punish cybersex operators. With no laws against the sexual exploitation of women and children over the Internet, law enforcers would face uphill battle in its fight against cybersex syndicates in the country, said Davao City Councilor Pilar Braga. Councilor Btaga said Lawmakers should fast-track the passage of laws to give more teeth to the government＊s campaign against cybersex operators. With no laws crafted to curb the activities of cybersex operators, exploitation on women and children could take a turn for the worse. Meanwhile, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has filed a bill calling for the imposition of stiffer penalties against cybersex operators throughout the country. Proposed Senate bill 1945 or the Anti-Cybersex Act of 2005 was filed to fill the void on specific laws against cybersex operators. Cybersex dens have sprouted throughout the country, reaching as far as Mindanao island to become a major problem in the country due to exploitation on women and children. Cybersex is a form of internet pornography wherein men and women perform sexual acts on computer video cameras which are streamed directly to the computers of paying customers. Under the proposed bill, cybersex operators may be penalized with 15 years imprisonment and a fine of up to P1-million. Cybersex den personnel will also be penalized under the bill with imprisonment of up to 12 years and a maximum fine of P500,000. Protectors or coddlers of cybersex operators will also be penalized with reclusion temporal and a fine ranging from P100,000 to P500,000. Cybersex has become popular among internet users because of the ease of access of real-time pornography for a minimal fee. (by Rose B. Palacio)
SINGAPORE--The Singapore government has embarked on a new five-year masterplan that promises to re-engineer back-end processes of public sector agencies to present a more integrated user experience for its citizens. Some S$2 billion (US$1.3 billion) will be invested in the initiative, dubbed the integrated Government 2010, or iGov2010. Changes in the pipeline include 15 new integrated e-government services for the public over the next five years, a revamp of the Singapore government portal, and the introduction of a single SMS (short message service) number for government services by the end of this year. The plans are aimed at helping the government to better connect with citizens and strengthen Singapore's competitive advantage globally, Raymond Lim, Second Minister for Finance and Foreign Affairs, said at the unveiling of iGov2010 on Tuesday. E-government today is more than just automating processes or using the Internet to conduct business, Lim said. The focus of e-government worldwide, he noted, has evolved to bringing "significant improvements to the way the government operates".Singapore has made progress in its e-government efforts, but more can be done, added Lim. "Creating a one-stop experience is different from developing a first-stop portal. We have to move beyond bundling information and services at the front-end, to re-engineering processes at the back end," he said. iGov 2010 is the third nation-wide IT initiative by the government, following the e-Government Action Plan I and II in 2000 and 2003 respectively. The government had pumped around $2.6 billion (US$1.6 billion) into the consecutive three-year projects.
"What's new is the strengthened focus and emphasis on transcending organizational structures, changing rules and procedures, reorganize and integrate the government around customers' and citizens' needs and intentions," he explained. For example, businesses will over the next three years be issued one single registration number that can be used to interface with different government agencies, said Lim. Currently, businesses are issued different sets of identification numbers. For instance, a business can own a number issued by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, one from the Department of Statistics for survey purposes, and another by the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board for employers. The CPF Board is a national body that manages the social security savings plans of working Singaporeans. According to a statement from the IDA, an open tender will be called in the first quarter of 2007 to develop a system to issue the Unique Establishment Identifier (UEI) as well as tools to convert the existing numbers held by the various agencies. By January 2009, all establishments will be issued with a UEI. Increasing the reach of e-services Singaporeans are increasingly going online to access public services.
According to the latest annual e-government customer perception survey, nine out of 10 who needed to transact with the government over the last year did so electronically, said Wu Choy Peng, deputy chief executive of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and government CIO. Nearly nine in 10 who have interfaced with the government via electronic means indicated they were satisfied with the quality of service, she noted. During the last three years, 15 new integrated e-services were introduced, including a business licensing service, a consultation portal, a dedicated site for those who need to attend to a demise, and a portal for renewal and termination of licenses. An integrated e-service refers to a one-stop avenue to facilitate a process or transaction even if various public sector agencies are involved. The iGov2010 will drive the innovation of e-services and provide the framework for new services, noted Lim Hup Seng, deputy secretary for performance at the Ministry of Finance, and chairman of the iGov2010 Project Steering Committee. "It's about making the service more attractive for people to [transact]," he said.
Singapore has become the latest country to push an initiative creating a next-generation network within a decade. At the CommunicAsia conference this week, Singapore government officials outlined a multibillion dollar IT and telecom plan to build a wired ※Intelligent Nation§ by 2015. The ambitious IN 2015 plan, drafted by the government with plenty of consultation and feedback from the private sector, will start with local service providers offering free Wi-Fi access, initially partly funded by the government, throughout Singapore by Sept. 2007. By 2012, officials promise that an \open-access, next-gen wired network (probably fiber based) will be put in place, delivering broadband speeds up to 1Gbps and hosting a variety of nifty applications ranging from telemedicine and digital learning to IPTV and video conferencing.In the process, the initiative is expected to create 80,000 jobs, including 55,000 in telecom and infocomm, as well as double the size of the industry and nearly triple the amount of current infocomm export revenue. Nine service providers already have put in bids for the wireless portion of the network and nearly three dozen companies have weighed in with ideas on how to build it. It＊s certainly a complicated and ambitious effort Singapore is undertaking, done in part to stay competitive with regional powerhouses like India and China. And it＊s another indication that some of the world is outpacing the US in its ability to tap private and public sectors to move forward and capitalize on new technology to boost trade and business. Last year British Telecom announced its own multi-billion dollar plan to wire the UK with a 21st Century network.
Meanwhile the US is bogged down with scandalously low and expensive broadband penetration; a raging political battle over telecom reform on Capital Hill; a fractured potpourri of competing new technologies; an increasingly vocal municipal vs. private sector battle over wireless broadband access; and no centralized plan or vision to embrace the future. Some may celebrate this as a free-market achievement, but looking at how other nations are embracing telecom＊s promise, it seems more like the wheels are falling off the American cart. To be sure, it＊s not really fair to compare Singapore or the UK (with their much smaller populations and land mass) to the sprawling US. But ※the vision thing§ is certainly relevant. Singapore has blended private sector initiatives with public sector needs and brought both sides together to develop an exciting future vision. US service providers and the federal government, in contrast, seem to take a one-step forward, two-step back approach, content to let the unbridled ※free market§ determine what technologies survive, seemingly with no direction or underlying design. This may please certain political constituencies in the US, but looking around, it＊s easy to see the world is indeed flattening and whatever technology lead the US may have is quickly being squandered as others move aggressively to seize the initiative. Singapore deserves praise for at least trying to define its future IT agenda and espousing a cooperative model that just might turn out to be the correct one.
Electronic commerce in Singapore will now benefit from even greater legal and business certainties after Singapore signed the latest Convention by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on Thursday. The Convention was signed by Mr Vanu Gopalan Menon, Singapore's UN Permanent Representative in New York. The Convention, which Singapore played a part in developing, aims to further facilitate electronic commerce by building upon earlier UNCITRAL instruments such as the Model Law on Electronic Commerce. Singapore was one of the first countries in the world to base its Electronic Transactions Act (ETA) on this Model in 1998. The Information, Communications and The Arts Ministry says the signing reaffirms Singapore's commitment to establish itself as a trusted hub for electronic commerce, by aligning its ETA with international standards. Extensive public consultations were carried out in a review of Singapore's ETA with a view to adopting the Convention. The Ministry says a final consultation on the proposed amendments to the ETA will be conducted shortly.
SINGAPORE: Singapore has announced a $2 billion new initiative to transform its government services reaching out to all citizens and business to make them more intelligent and interactive and new paradigm shift is being labeled, iGov 2010. Citizens will be able to avail 15 new integrated e-services at the click of a mouse, not just from the island, from anywhere in the world. The services include, online business licensing service, consultation portal, one-stop government bills payment, marriage and procreation schemes, employment assistance portal, etc. Outlining the iGov 2010 initiative, Singapore Infocomm Development Authority's director (e-gov policies), Tan Kar Joo said the 2010 plans has been formulated with the vision to make it an integrated government (iGov) that delights customers and connects citizens through infocomm. On the anvil is the widespread use of short message services (SMS) and standardized formats will be made available to all government agencies. Tan said there will also be a single four-digit number to enable citizens to use all services easily. Also, the current CitizenConnect e-services available through five centers will be extended to 25 centers by 2010. Nearly two million of the country's four million people transact online with the government now.
A recent audit revealed that only five out of 10 users are satisfied with the online transactions with the government. The iGov2010 has targeted a satisfaction level of eight out of 10 users. Only a third of citizens surveyed found the information content useful. The plan targets to raise this to 90 per cent, by reworking the processes and formats to make them more and more citizen-friendly. We aim to provide information services from the perspective of the citizen users and not in the formats the providers are comfortable with as it is now,? Tan said. The initiative will make all public policies accessible, provide e-consultation to citizens online, receive feedback online and create e-communities linking the separate portals that exist for youths and seniors. The iGov2010 will be dovetailed into another major plan, the iN2015 master plan and will extensively use the infocomm technologies. IDA's CEO, Chan Yeng Kit said use of wireless technologies will enable customers to transact with the government 24X7, and on the move. The public employees will become i-powered employees and will have access all relevant information that citizens require at one place.
A bill is likely to be placed before the next session of the parliament on banning the telecast of unauthorized foreign television channel in Bangladesh. Deputy Minister for Information Advocate Abdus Salam Pintu disclosed this while inaugurating as chief guest, a month-long Television Channel Journalism?course in the city recently. Centre for Media Watch and Development (CMD) working with journalism and Bangladesh Institute of Communication Studies and Public Relations (BICSPR) jointly organised the function at BICSPR conference room. The Deputy Minister said, though the government is liberal in giving permission to more new television channels, it should control the unauthorized foreign television channels telecasting programmes in Bangladesh. Referring to Ekushey TV and Jamuna TV, Pintu said the government is ready to give approval Ekushey and Jamuna TVs for telecast, but the two will have to apply satellites and not terrestrial for telecasting. A total of 25 students from different public and private universities are participating in the course. CMD Executive Director Shahabul Haque spoke at the function with the Executive Director of BICSPR Mirza Tarequl Kader in the chair.
Electronic waste (e-Waste), unlike other forms of waste, can cause immediate danger to all inhabitants owing to its high toxicity and carcinogenic qualities. E-Waste is very much hazardous type for health. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Bengal, India, was already looking at separate laws under the existing Environment Protection Act to tackle the e-Waste menace. At a recent meet in Hyderabad, the MoEF held detailed discussions with various experts on such legislation, mainly over collection and safe disposal of such waste after proper segregation. Among the major metros, Mumbai is said to be topping the list at 11,000 tonnes, followed by Delhi (10,000) Bangalore (6,400), Chennai (4,032) and Kolkata (4,000).
The Chief Minister of Orissa Mr. Naveen Patnaik unveiled the e-Governance and capacity building road maps for the State. He said this initiative would make the administration efficient by ensuring greater transparency and accountability in delivery of public service to facilitate moral and material progress of all citizens. The road maps are the first initiative under the National e-governance plan (NeGP) and have been prepared with the assistance from National Institute for Smart Government (NISG) and Wipro Infotech. Naveen said though 15 departments have been selected as mission mode projects, initially only Works, Rural Development, Water Resources and IT departments would be taken up for implementation. Over 200 services of 15 departments have been identified for implementation of the new initiative.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in India has notified new set of tax return forms which are electronic-friendly and annexure less. It will include the one for corporate taxpayers, who would now be required to compulsorily file their return of income electronically. To design the forms, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India was consulted. New return Form No 1 is for corporate taxpayers, Form No 2 is for non-corporate taxpayers having business income and Form No 3 is for non-corporate taxpayers not having business income. It has also notified a Form 3B for fringe benefits. It is optional for the taxpayer to file the return electronically. The new return forms would be available on the Web Site http://www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in. However, the software for electronic filing of tax returns in form 1, 2, 3 and 3B would be available on the same Web Site from mid of September this year. The CBDT has extended the due date for furnishing of return of income and return of fringe-benefits for assessment year 2006-07 from July 31 to October 31 in all cases of non-corporate taxpayers to provide some time for the taxpayers to get themselves familiarised with the new forms. In case of individuals and HUFs without having income under the head 'profits and gains from business or profession', the due date for filing of return of income would continue to be July 31.
The blueprint unveiled by the State Government of Orissa, India, recently envisages complete computerisation of issue and renewal of permit, registration and driving license to all vehicles owners. If everything proceeds on schedule, the e-Governance blueprint will bring sea changes in the transport sector. Now, there is no facility for receiving applications from vehicle owners electronically. However, processing of applications and issue of permit and registration have been partially computerised under project Vaahan implemented by the Transport Department. Similarly, issue of driving licence has also been partially computerised at some places through project Saarthi. In the first phase, computers would be provided to all regional transport officers (RTOs) and departmental intranet would be extended to all districts. All check gates in the State would be provided computers in the second phase of the programme. Selected field officers of the enforcement wing would be provided with hand-held devices in the third phase to verify the details of the vehicles. Old driving licenses would also be replaced with smart card driving licenses.
The Technology Sabha 06, organised by the Indian Express Group at Goa, brought into focus the various e-Governance initiatives undertaken by the central and state governments and the industry's views on the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
On that occasion a message from the President, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, was read out. The message says that it is highly needed at this point to transform India into a developed nation and ICT has to play a vital role to work it out. The President believes that IT applications have potential for strengthening India's vision for 2020. Kalam also says that IT applications are the key elements in strengthening self-sufficiency among the citizens. Director, Technology Interface, President's Office, V Ponraj identified three technological areas that are going to drive India's growth; these are biotechnology, nanotechnology and information technology. These three areas are different in nature but are interconnected. Goan IT Minister Dayanand G Narvekar said that there is an immense potential for IT in Goa. The Government of Goa has taken up e-Governance initiatives in various areas including the state transport department and land records〞a project called Dharni. National Informatics Centre (NIC)'s e-Gov project is about to set up of Common Services Centres (CSCs) in the state. Another important scheme is InfoGram, as part of which 109 village panchayats will be connected through Internet by next year.
The Government of India will spend a whopping Rs 23,000 crore on various e-Governance initiatives and a part of the funds invested would be recovered through an innovative e-Service tax to be paid by the users of the electronic governance. he funds for the e-Governance initiatives would be generated through Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) and the same would be recovered through e-Service tax to be paid by the users. While the government is spending lots of money on e-Governance, results are not commensurate with the expenditure. The main focus would be to provide e-Governance at an affordable price so that it could become an effective tool for pushing the GDP growth and sustainable development of the country. There is a crying need to reengineer the existing processes along with infrastructure development through innovative PPP enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the central and state e-Government initiatives in order to achieve 10 per cent GDP growth, in its current second phase. e-Governance initiatives help in the better expenditure management and revenue collection thereby leading to capital gain. The capital gained can be utilised for the infrastructure development in the growing sectors like telecom, IT, infrastructure. Hence, leading to a double digit GDP growth.
The Minister of Communications and IT, India, Mr Dayanidhi Maran told that an act has been amended with a view to provide legal framework relating to theft of data, transmission of images and video voyeurism in a seminar on 'Cyber Crime: Today and Tomorrow' organised by NASSCOM. About 1,400 websites of Indian companies and government agencies have come under attack in the past six months and 55 percent of these threats were from outside the country, according to official data. The major IT crimes in the country are related to the denial of services, defacement of websites, spam, computer virus and worms, pornography, cyber squatting and cyber stalking, the minister said.
The fast-growing community of online bloggers has borne the brunt of the government＊s decision to block some 20 websites in a post-Mumbai show of force. Some of the websites that have been blocked are Dalitstan.org, Clickatell.com, Hinduhumanrights.org and Hinduunity.com. But the most harried Internet users were the bloggers, who couldn＊t access Blogspot.com, Typepad.com or Geocities.com pages. Sources in ISPs in Delhi as well as Mumbai confirmed that the one blog government has asked them to block is Princesskimberly.blogspot.com. It seems the order posed technical problems, resulting in a blanket ban on all blogs. ＆＆You cannot block a single page on blogspot.com, which is why all of them are getting blocked,＊＊ said Neha Viswanathan, Regional Editor, South Asia, Globalvoicesonline.org from London. The Indian order was issued on July 13, sources in the Ministry of Telecom confirmed, though the Computer Emergency Response Team (India), part of a global cyber-security network set up three years ago, did not announce the bans officially. Only sources in several ISPs such as Spectranet and Airtel confirmed that they had received the site-blocking order. R Grewal, a spokesperson for Spectranet confirmed: ＆＆We received a list of over 20 websites to block from the Department of Telecom, and this (Blogspot.com) was one of them.＊＊ Apparently, all the websites blocked are said to express ※extreme religious views.§ MTNL officials said they were handed a 22-page document detailing the sites to block a month ago. ※It came from the National Informatics Centre (NIC). It was the first time that they had done something of this nature,＊＊ says RH Sharma, sub-divisional engineer for MTNL in Delhi. Government sources confirmed late in the evening that some websites have been blocked based on police reports that they were fuelling hatred. They denied that the Mumbai blasts had anything to do with censorship and that security checks on the blocked sites were on since before the terrorist attacks.
The Survey of India, Tamil Nadu branch, is introducing digital guide maps of City map of Chennai (India) in the form of CDs. They will be on sale by August-end or September this year. Public may have to get Defence Ministry clearance for which they will be guided by the department. Only vital installations or spots, identified by Defence Ministry will be barred from the digital maps. These maps can be updated. The department has planned to bring out guide maps at 1: 5,000 units scale in digital format. More layers such as population and hydrology could be included. Details of the digital maps are available at Geo-Spatial Data Centre, Survey of India at Thiru Vi Ka Industrial Estate, Guindy.
India has decided against getting involved in Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child scheme which aims to provide kids in developing countries with a simple USD100 machine. The success of the (OLPC) project depends on support, and big orders, from governments. The loss of such a potentially huge and relatively technically sophisticated market will be a serious blow. The Indian Ministry of Education dismissed the laptop as "pedagogically suspect". Education Secretary Sudeep Banerjee said: "We cannot visualise a situation for decades when we can go beyond the pilot stage. We need classrooms and teachers more urgently than fancy tools." Banerjee said if money were available it would be better spent on existing education plans. Banerjee told the Hindu: "We do not think that the idea of Prof Negroponte is mature enough to be taken seriously at this stage and no major country is presently following this. Even inside America, there is not much enthusiasm about this." OLPC's original schedule was to deliver machines by the end of 2006, but it will not start production until it has received orders, and payment, for between five and ten million machines. But in better news it also emerged earlier this month that Nigeria is ordering one million machines. The idea is backed by AMD, Google, MIT, Nortel and Red Hat. China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria, and Thailand were all named by the OLPC organisation as governments which had expressed an interest. (by The Register)
The Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, Shakeel Ahmad has stated that the Government has proposed to develop a new National Telecom Policy. The planned policy would to be a comprehensive one, encompassing various aspects of the Telecom sector, including, access, spectrum allocation, technology, telecom equipment manufacturing, R and D, deregulation, further simplification, value added services and quality of service. Under the Bharat Nirman Programme, about 8,293 Village Public Telephones (VPTs) in Madhya Pradesh have been provided under the programme, on this scheme INR 11.79 crore has been incurred; remaining 3,601 eligible unconnected villages of Madhya Pradesh would be provided with VPTs by November 2007.
It is mandatory for corporates to file annual returns and balance sheets electronically as the Registrars of Companies (India) will stop accepting these documents in physical form from September 16. The filing in electronic mode is part of e-Governance project 'MCA21' initiated by the Ministry of Company Affairs, India. All the company representatives authorised to sign the documents are required to obtain digital signatures by that time to ensure the security and authenticity of filings in the electronic mode, Company Affairs Minister P C Gupta said. The project includes introduction of anywhere, anytime secure electronic filing for MCA transactions, adaptation of all statutory forms to e-Forms for electronic filing, use of digital signatures to ensure the security of electronic forms and documents. Multi-modal methods of payment encompassing existing payment mechanism and electronic payment options using credit cards and Internet banking are also part of the project. Mr. Gupta said 53 physical front offices are located across the nation to provide facilitation services for electronic filing.
PESHAWAR: Cable networks in NWFP suspended their operation for three hours on Tuesday as protest against government decision of levying Rs 25 per month tax on consumers. Telecasts from all cable channels remained off from 7 to 10 pm as protest, which the cable operators said would continue till withdrawal of the tax. The Central Board of Revenue (CBR) has imposed Rs 25 per month tax on consumers and asked the operators to collect the same with monthly bills. The cable operators all over the country have decided to resist the move and they launched a token strike from Tuesday. The protest would continue till taking the tax decision back, said Zubair Khalid, president NWFP Cable Operators Association. He said the government had not only imposed new tax of Rs 25 per month on those watching cable TV channels, but also made it mandatory on operators to collect the tax with monthly bills. Consumers are already paying entertainment tax and levying of more tax would definitely affect the cable operator business, he added.
It is also astonishing that the operators are made bound to collect the tax, though the government could not properly collect TV license fee and at last started charging entertainment tax through electricity bills, then how it is possible for cable operators to collect the same, he posed a question. He said the consumers, already grinding under skyrocketing price hike, would resist further tax that would ultimately affect cable operators business. The token strike was started through out the country and it would continue till any amicable solution of the problem, he informed. Switching off cable networks annoyed the consumers who remained deprived of entertainment as well as news and information and they were bound to watch PTV transmission or CD programmes. (by Nisar Mahmood)
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Saturday directed the ministry of information technology to urgently set up IT parks in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi on a priority basis. He was presiding over a meeting held here at the PM House to review the IT industry＊s growth. The prime minister was informed that plans for land acquisition for the parks were being finalised and the construction of Islamabad IT park would begin in October. In the outsourcing business, the prime minister said that Pakistan offered a viable destination for parsing out services in an environment with reliable infrastructure, adding that undersea cables provided redundancy. At the moment, Pakistan had three international links and more links were being planned, he said. He said the government was facilitating the private sector by providing an enabling environment as well as financial support to Software and IT-enabled companies. Mr Aziz said the government had provided a level playing field to local and foreign companies, which resulted in increased investments and record growth in the sector.
The ministry of information technology in its presentation said that IT industry growth and human resource expansion has created 300 per cent increase in office space requirement for IT companies in Islamabad. The ministry submitted a strategy to address the demand for IT-enabled office space to IT companies. Minister for Information Technology Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari said that the total size of IT business in Pakistan was about $2 billion with 50 per cent annual growth during the past three year. It included domestic industry, hardware and export of software and IT-enabled services. The premier was informed that the IT-related product export had reached $600 million and was also expected to grow by 50 per cent annually.
The Ministry of Information Technology has given policy guidelines to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to tackle the problem of cellular phone jamming devices being used by the different entities. The ministry has prepared policy guidelines to resolve the longstanding industry issue concerning the use of cellular phone jamming devices by different entities, especially financial institutions in the business districts of metropolitan areas, said a statement on Saturday. The guidelines were issued following consumers that they complaints are unable to avail cellular services across substantial areas due to spill over of jamming effect of such devices deployed by multiple organisations in business districts. The cellular mobile industry has also been demanding for long that they have been licensed country-wide right to use of spectrum, but the deployment of such equipment is causing interference and blockage to the service. The guidelines prescribe review of the current process for authorisation of jammers and withdrawal of permissions accorded to commercial entities after due notice of three months. A separate process based on authorisations in the context of national security will be adopted.
Such authorisations will be accorded by an inter-ministerial committee constituted especially for the purpose. This committee will comprise representatives of Ministries of Interior, Defence, Information Technology and National Security Agencies, PTA and technical experts. To address all other situations where use of cellular phones is essentially a matter of "cellular phone use etiquette" eg mosques, churches, cinema halls and other such places, the government and PTA with the co-operation of cellular operators will take up a social responsibility and mass awareness campaign to educate the masses about prudent use of their cellular phones. PTA will devise effective programme for such a campaign. The revision of the policy with regard to jammers will ensure that the consumer's interest with regard to uninterrupted availability of telecom services will be protected, the statement added.
NEW legislation outlawing inappropriate or offensive content will soon be introduced to federal Parliament to bring regulation of mobile phones and internet portal in line with traditional media. Communications Minister Helen Coonan announced a raft of new regulatory safeguards to limit harmful material emerging on content services like 3G mobile telephony and subscription-based internet portals. While the government would seek to encourage the development of a new and innovative content industry, Senator Coonan said existing media regulation did not adequately cover convergent services. "Existing regulation in Australia has been specific to the platform over which it is delivered - for example television, internet or telephones," Senator Coonan said. "The new capabilities of mobile devices to receive and display audiovisual services means that some of these platforms - and thus regulatory - distinctions are being broken down," she said. "These developments raise the question of the way traditionally distinct content regulatory systems should apply to a single converged device." The government's immediate concern is the fast growing number of premium adult services being offered over 3G phones. But in future, converged technologies will similarly blur the regulatory lines between broadcast televisions and internet TV (IPTV).
"Therefore I can announce today that new safeguards will be put in place to protect consumers from inappropriate or harmful material on emerging content services such as 3G mobile phones and subscription-based internet portals" Senator Coonan said. "I will soon introduce to the Parliament legislation to provide content safeguards comparable to those in place for traditional media platforms." Speaking to the National Press Club in Canberra, Senator Coonan said the measures would extend current safeguards that apply to television and the internet to apply to mobile devices. They will include the prohibition of content rated X-18 or above, and will require companies to offer consumer advice and age restrictions on access to adult content. Senator Coonan also poured cold water on a push from Coalition backbenchers to force internet service providers to filter all content coming into Australia to reduce the problems of pornography. While government was prepared to take all reasonable steps to stamp out hard core internet pornography - and in particular to limit children's access to net porn - she said mandatory filtering was not effective, and had been found to degrade network performance. "I support all efforts to find the best way to make the internet a safer place and I would like to make it clear today that the government has not and will not rule out any proven measure to protect children online," she said. "But whatever actions we take must be the most effective tool at our disposal."
GOVERNMENT has released new procurement guidelines aimed at stripping costs and cutting red tape from federal purchasing. Special Minister of State Gary Nairn, who oversees the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), said automated processes would save time and paper work, as well as improve overall governance of public spending. The new guidelines overhaul a modest e-procurement model set up in 2000. "This strategic guide is all about improving efficiency," Mr Nairn said. "The guide ... provides practical guidance and solutions for agencies that wish to perform procurement transactions electronically," he said. "This would apply to anything that the Government engages with the private sector on, whether it be invoicing and purchasing stationary, computer equipment or professional services.
"The electronic alternative may not be the most appropriate for all agencies but in a lot of cases, an automated process will save time and paperwork, minimise double-handling and lower costs." The original e-procurement strategy sought only to pay all suppliers electronically by 2000 and to enable agencies to trade electronically with all "simple procurement" suppliers. The new guide seeks to embed electronic transactions into the government processes. The guide also focuses on the audit trails and activity logs routinely used in electronic procurement to improve governance and control. It advises that where the spend in a purchasing category was high, and where there was a high amount of activity - in planning, procurement and payment - it was important to invest in systems capability. "Fully-enabled" e-procurement systems should provide direct connections between buyers and suppliers; high volumes of purchase orders; invoice-less payments using Recipient Created Tax Invoices; and specialised e-sourcing tools.
The Special Minister of State, The Hon Gary Nairn, speaking today at the Australian Smart Cards Summit 2006, released a number of major documents relating to authentication and security in government. ※The range of documents I have launched here today 每 the Australian Government Smartcard Framework, the AGAF for Individuals: Overview and Principles, and the first five elements of IMAGE - all represent significant commitments on behalf of the government towards improving the way we conduct business§ Minister Nairn said.
1.Smartcard Framework Minister Nairn said that the Australian Government was releasing the first two parts of the Smartcard Framework, the ＆Overview and Principles＊ document, and the ＆Smartcard Handbook＊, which has been designed as an educational tool on smartcards. Minister Nairn also announced the release of a third part of the framework for comment, the ＆Standards and Model Specification＊. ※The vision for the Smartcard Framework is to ensure that government adopts a consistent and interoperable approach to the use of smartcard technology,§ Minister Nairn said. "It is important to note that AGIMO began work on the Smartcard Framework prior to the Government decision on the Health and Social Services Access Card. The Government decision on the permitted use, scope and limitations of the Access card bound its use. ※Importantly, the framework will assist agencies to utilise smartcard technology so that personal information can be appropriately secured and partitioned from other information on the smartcard.§
2. Australian Government e-Authentication Framework (AGAF) for Individuals Minister Nairn also released the ＆Overview and Principles＊ section of the Australian Government e-Authentication Framework (AGAF) for Individuals. AGAF(I) deals with the full range of issues associated with people logging onto e-Government websites - a key part of the e-Government strategy. ※This document is the first element in a framework that will provide guidance to agencies whose online services require authentication of an individual＊s identity,§ Minister Nairn said.
3. Identity Management for Government Employees Framework (IMAGE) In addition to the Smartcard Framework and AGAF, Minister Nairn released the key elements of the IMAGE framework, which pertains to identity management of Australian Public Service employees. ※The purpose of IMAGE is to standardise identity management policies and practices for employees and contractors in the public sector and it will provide, in the longer term, capability for enhanced interoperability across the Australian Government,§ Minister Nairn said. ※IMAGE envisages that a smartcard will be a key element of the solution, providing both evidence of identity and access control, and the Smartcard Framework will clearly be a key reference document as the specifications for the IMAGE card are defined. This will be a different smartcard to the Health and Social Services Card - the key point is that the Smartcard Framework is broader than just the Access card and can deal with more than one card. The release of these three documents is a key component of the implementation of the 2006 e-Government Strategy, which I released in March this year. In particular, the Smartcard Framework and AGAF for Individuals are key components of the government＊s roadmap for e-government in Australia.§
ALL local internet content will come under Federal Government supervision after the Communications Minister revealed her response to the Big Brother sexual assault scandal. The regulatory powers of the media watchdog will be broadened to cover emerging technologies such as video streaming on the internet and mobile phones. The code of practice governing the classification of free-to-air television programs will likely be reviewed, despite it being overhauled two years ago. Australia's media watchdog yesterday said that it was powerless to rule on the Big Brother incident. It did not breach broadcast regulations, because, technically, it was not broadcast. The incident, in which a male housemate rubbed his genitals in the face of a woman while she was being held down, did not appear on the Big Brother TV show, but was streamed "live" on the internet from the show's website and on mobile phones. While Channel Ten, which presents Big Brother, has not screened the footage, Australia's other commercial networks have as part of news stories and it remains accessible on the net.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority will soon be given the power to regulate similar broadcasts, on top of its jurisdiction over free-to-air TV, radio and internet content "stored" on particular sites. Communications Minister Helen Coonan said yesterday that legislation to broaden the authority's regulatory powers would be introduced into Parliament as soon as possible. "This matter has reinforced the need for changes to the act to ensure that these new services being offered over the internet and mobile devices are subject to the same content restrictions that apply to television broadcasts," she said. Senator Coonan suggested the code might need overhauling. "Given the community outrage about this matter, it would appear the codes applying to television program classifications may also be out of step with community standards." "I think we really need to consider whether the current approach to the classification of reality programming is appropriate," Senator Noonan said. Prime Minister John Howard said this week that the Big Brother show was "stupid" and urged that it be axed.
A record number of public submissions were received during the 2004 review of the code. Commercial television's peak body said it was confident that the code, which shapes the classification of programs, reflected public standards. "Broadcasters take their responsibilities under the code very seriously and will co-operate with the review," Free TV chief executive Julie Flynn said. Mike Van Niekerk, editor-in-chief of the websites for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, received a letter from the minister on Monday, threatening to alert the authority if the Big Brother video was not removed from the sites. Mr Van Niekerk said the video was being removed due to questions about copyright. Shadow communications minister Stephen Conroy said the Government needed to give ACMA the power to punish transgressors, otherwise any changes to the law would be "window dressing".
THE federal Government is planning to formalise guidelines for smartcard projects ahead of the launch of its $1.1 billion human services access card. The move comes as it increases work on the proposed welfare card, slated to be phased in from 2008. A number of contractors have been appointed to the controversial project and the Department of Finance and Administration is planning to boost the roster further as it recruits a consultant to draw up a smartcard introduction guide. The guide will serve as a technical framework that government agencies can use to ensure they introduce smartcard systems compliant not only with the human services access card but with state systems. State smartcard projects under way include the planned Queensland smartcard driver's licence and smartcard public transport ticketing systems in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Western Australia. The guide will be tied to other federal government technology frameworks, including the Australian Government e-Authentication Framework and Identity Management for Australian Government Employees.
The Department of Finance is planning a phased approach for the development of the smartcard guide and a first draft is expected to be released for public comment by the end of the year. The final version of the guide is expected to be approved and in place by the end of February. The Department of Finance and Administration is seeking bids from consultants to write the guide under a tender due to close on September 6. The successful bidder will join a growing list of contractors recruited to the human services access card project. Other companies working on the project include lead adviser Booz Allen Hamilton and program monitoring and assurance adviser KPMG. Australia's banks have also signalled a desire to provide transaction services for the welfare access card when their own smartcard eftpos projects are completed. Most banks expect to upgrade all of their eftpos terminals to accept smartcards by the end next year.
SMALL Australian companies have welcomed a federal government decision to cap liability on many IT contracts in an effort to give them a bigger slice of the government spending pie. The decision by communications minister Helen Coonan to introduce limited liability capping comes as South Australia moved to cap liability on contracts and introduce tender-free purchasing for smaller deals. Victoria and Western Australia already cap liability. "Introducing caps on ICT supplier liability is good for business, especially smaller businesses, as reducing the liability coverage required will decrease the cost of tendering and doing business with the government," Senator Coonan said. "These savings should also flow through to tender prices, delivering better value for money for the government and taxpayers." The federal Government will use a risk-assessment procedure to manage contracts, meaning unlimited liability clauses will only be used where there is a compelling reason, rather than as the norm. The Australian understands some small businesses had given unlimited liability undertakings without insurance, hoping they would not be sued. The SA Government has announced an end to unlimited liability, capping it at $2.5 million for high-risk contracts and $1 million for low-risk work. Tendering - a big cost for business - will also be reduced, with deals of up to $200,000 requiring two tenders, and deals of up to $700,000 requiring three tenders.
Tenders will need to pre-qualify for a supplier panel. "Unlimited liability (cover) is very hard to get and costs a lot of money, but these insurance costs are well within the reach of even the smallest company," said David Raffen, ICT Council for SA chairman. The Australian Information Industry Association has been lobbying strongly for the changes, and is now urging other states to adopt the caps. "It is very difficult to get insurance for uncapped liability, but it's more the cost of the insurance, particularly where the arrangements are so uncertain," AIIA general manager of strategy and policy James McAdam said. Lawyers welcome capping as a balance between public interest and commercial necessity, as liability insurance makes it expensive for small businesses. "They won't do a job if there's a possibility they'll be sent bankrupt," Hunt and Hunt partner Jim Harrowell said. "Caps are sensible to encourage smaller businesses to bid for government contracts." De facto liability caps are already in place for professionals such as solicitors, accountants and engineers. NSW has its own procurement frame work and develops liability caps based on the value of each contract. In Queensland, departments are able to set a cap on liability if they think it is justified.
The Government has opened a new front in its bid to improve New Zealanders' access to broadband Internet. Communications Minister David Cunliffe today released a discussion paper looking at how more of the radio spectrum could be allocated for wireless broadband Internet. The Economic Development Ministry paper said new technologies could make the radio spectrum an extremely cost-effective competitor to existing cellular and hard-wired networks. One possibility was digital TV operators providing broadband access through any spectrum left over. In Korea this was already a reality. Mr Cunliffe said part of improving New Zealand's poor broadband uptake and speeds was encouraging investment in alternatives to the copper-wire phone network. Wireless technology was a competitive alternative, he said. "Most of the services available on wired networks can now be accessed via wireless technologies." Wireless technology was particularly useful in the final kilometre of delivering services to homes where lower traffic volumes meant other networks were not very cost effective.
A call center for research and development services in Shanghai went into operation yesterday. Any public services related to R&D, such as the renting of apparatus, searching for scientific literature or business development information, can be accessed via the 800-820-5114 hotline. The R&D public service platform, known as a scientific information center, has developed from a single net consulting service to offer a whole range of service modes, including manual operation, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), fax, short message and email Q&A. The voice response service is available 24 hours a day. Related information: Services include:
1. searching scientific literature
hotline: 800-820-5114 (021-54594730 for regions where 800 service is unavailable) online: www.sgst.cn email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Information security is an important issue that should be proactively tackled with vigilance by both the Government and the community in Hong Kong. The Government fully recognises the importance of information security, and takes various measures to ensure the security of its information infrastructure. The Government has entrusted the Hong Kong Productivity Council to establish the Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre (HKCERT/CC) to act as a focal point in Hong Kong for dealing with information security incidents. A press conference was held on 20 February 2001 to announce the establishment of the HKCERT/CC. The objective of HKCERT/CC is to provide a centralized contact on computer and network security incident reporting and response for local enterprises and Internet users in case of security incidents. It helps disseminating information and monitoring on security related issues, coordinates response and recovery actions for reported incidents, and provides advice on preventive measures against security threats. The service includes incident response, security alert, publication, training and education. Also, the HKCERT/CC periodically organizes training courses and awareness seminars on information security related topics
A consensus has been reached among government officials that a well-operated e-government network will benefit both the government and the public. This comes after Premier Wen Jiabao's message to February's national e-government meeting, in which he called for the country's e-government to be more efficient and provide better services to the public. E-government will simplify the delivery of services to citizens, streamline the operation of government and enhance government's responsiveness to the public. We live in an increasingly interconnected society, where the Internet has brought great convenience to our social and economic life. And now the government has realized the importance of smooth communication with the public through cyber technology. The central government and some local authorities have established websites to make their services more accessible to the public. These online initiatives improve the effectiveness of government in a number of ways, such as increasing public participation, improving access to public services and reflecting public opinion in a more timely manner. But such functional government websites do not seem to account for a major proportion of the nation's e-government activities.
Many government websites seem unable to post basic public information in a timely manner, let alone use the new channel to improve access to public services. In some areas, e-government facilities are nothing more than "image projects," installed as a token response to the central government's call for the promotion of electronic public services. Such a qualitative change in the style of government will require massive investment. CCID Consulting, a famous consulting company based in Beijing, estimates that the price tag for China's e-government efforts in 2005 may have been as much as 48 billion yuan (US$6 billion). Bolder estimates from other sources even put the figure in excess of 200 billion yuan (US$25 billion) a year. If efficient use is not made of e-government facilities, this will mean that millions in taxpayers' money have simply been poured down the drain. The central government has realized the problem and called on local governments to pay more attention to making e-government work. Local governments need to grasp the importance of providing good services both via the Internet and in the real world.
Shanghai＊s digital government ranked third among 81 cities in a comprehensive evaluation on municipality websites for the year 2003 co-sponsored by the United Nations. Among the websites of cities having a relatively high proportion of individual Internet users, Shanghai＊s official website www.sh.gov.cn ranked second for usability, sixth for service quality, eighth for security and ninth for both integrity of content and public participation. The assessment was jointly-conducted by the E-Governance Institute/ National Center for Public Productivity, Rutgers and the Global e-Policy e-Government Institute, Sungkyunkwan University. According to the data collected by the Internet indicators of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 100 of the most populous cities, including Hong Kong and Macao, representing countries and regions with over 160,000 individual Internet users, were chosen for the evaluation. Among these, only 81 that have government websites were actually? assessed. The research result was published on the website of the United Nations Online Network in Public Administration and Finance (www.unpan.org).
A senior official said in Beijing on Monday that the Chinese government is going to more strictly monitor the use of public funds in scientific research and technological development. Shang Yong, vice minister of science and technology, said in an interview with Xinhua his ministry would establish a watchdog which is responsible for supervising R&D expenditure in state-designated projects. "We're going to set up an online uniform platform concerning the state science projects management, to which the public could get easy access," Shang said. "We'll invite independent agencies to appraise efficiency of the state science project implementation," he said. The ministry acknowledged that some public funds for state science projects went to crafty applicants who repeatedly get money from the state for same projects. "We plan to build an inter-agency database which includes detailed information on every application for state funding," Shang said. Appropriate use of public funding for research and development remained a hot debate lately against the backdrop of several scandals of squandering public money. Chen Jin, a former dean at the Shanghai Jiaotong University, was disgraced for cheating in his so-called research on developing edge-cutting system-on-chips. Chen got several millions of yuan from the state for the R&D. He was finally sacked from the post as dean after a joint investigation, organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Education, proved he was cheating. "An effective and fair mechanism for appraisal is vitally important for us to better supervise the use of public funds," Shang said, citing that the ministry will blind choose judges from a pool for nationwide applications.
The construction of better on-line public services will help build a cleaner and more efficient government, says a signed article in Procuratorial Daily. An excerpt follows: According to the newly published China E-Government Development Report, the interactive columns of some government websites have become purely ornamental objects that provide little useful information and fail to solve any problems. Enhancing e-government is a major aspect of the reform of public administration. It is also an important measure in terms of increasing government efficiency and raising the level of public service. At the same time, e-government provides a new platform to build a clean government. Therefore, careful attention should be paid to the current problems in e-government. Taking heed of public opinion is a vital prerequisite for governments at all levels to perform their duties effectively. Interactive columns on government websites are an important way of finding out what the public thinks and what the public needs from the authorities. However, they are useless if they are merely "letters" columns and there is no government feedback or action. Transparency is the best way to prevent corruption. Government websites should disclose as much information as possible. Basic information such as government affairs, regulations, rules and administrative documents should be published in a timely fashion. Key service information like personnel affairs, government procurement and project investments should also be published. This will help the public better understand the work of government, and will also assist public supervision of government affairs. Abuses of power can be effectively prevented when information is made available to the public and the government is under public supervision. Last but certainly not least, online services should be improved to reduce civil servants' opportunities for corruption. It should be the core function of government websites to handle work and serve the public online.
An administrative complaint center kicked off its daily service in Shanghai's Pudong New Area yesterday, Oriental Morning Post reported today. As the first one in the city, the center handles legitimate claims from individuals, companies or organizations upon administrative procedures and supervises the administrative departments' fulfilling the complaint. The center has established a modern platform to provide multimedia services, such as an electronic administrative supervision system and an online complaint system. It also plans to launch a short message service in the future. To access the official Website log onto: (xnts.pudong.gov.cn) or call the hotlines at 8546834 and 6854222. Send complaint letters to: No.2, Hehuan Road, Pudong, or simply visit the office. The center will register the complaint after receiving it and then it will decide whether it is feasible or not in two workdays. If the center decides to handle it, the complaint will be solved within 20 workdays. Under some complicated situations, an extension is permitted under the approval of major leaders of the relevant administrations.
In the lobby of the center, many multimedia kiosks are available. Users can register their complaint via touch screens while the whole procedure is being displayed on a large screen that is monitored by the Pudong's supervision committee. The committee is able to sort through each claim and supervise which departments it should relevantly and timely be filed in. Individuals, companies or organizations who suffer unjust treatment during administrative procedures, including authorities' refusal to fulfill ones duties, an unjust delay and unprofessional attitudes, can lodge a complaint against the authority. China launched the Administrative License Law in 2004, which enhanced the supervision and restrictions upon administrative authorities and eased individuals, companies or organizations' dealing with authorities.
Yao Mingbao, deputy secretary-general of the municipal government, takes a call as the city's first IPR complaints center was launched yesterday. People with complaints about IPR violations can call the center's hotline on 12312. The city's first intellectual property rights complaint center was launched yesterday. People with complaints about IPR violations can call the hotline on 12312, and the complaint will be passed on to administrative departments. The hotline will also monitor the handling of complaints and collect statistics. Other hotlines will be set up in 50 other cities by the end of August, officials said. "By establishing these centers, we can uncover counterfeits and other IPR violations more effectively, and improve our competitiveness," said Jiang Zengwei, vice minister of the Ministry of Commerce. "More importantly, it shows China's determination to crack down on counterfeiting." The center said that with each complaint it will decide whether to accept it within five days and report the results within two days of the investigation finishing. A man surnamed Cai made the center's first call yesterday. He claimed a trading company was selling fake cosmetics in a local cosmetic market. A chemical apparatus company also complained about a competitor displaying at an exhibition an instrument, the patent of which is owned by the chemical company.
BEIJING -- Top Shenzhen officials have promised that the municipal government will provide full e-government services by 2008, after Shenzhen became the first Chinese city designated by the Central Government to trial e-government programs. The IT application office under the State Council on Monday named Shenzhen as a pilot city for spearheading e-government programs in the country. Top city officials, including Li Hongzhong, secretary of the municipal committee of the Communist Party of China, and Mayor Xu Zongheng, were present at the ceremony where State Council officials unveiled a plaque symbolizing the beginning of the Shenzhen program. Shenzhen has opened certain online services for residents and companies to obtain government approvals. According to the latest plan disclosed by the government following Monday's ceremony, residents and companies can submit applications for administrative approval and inquire about the results online by 2008. Any inquiry about government affairs and public services can also be lodged via the government's Web sites. Half of the applications will be processed online. An independent body will scrutinize e-government services in a bid to ensure transparency and efficiency. Li said at the ceremony that e-government services will be conducive to the vitality and efficiency of the government, while Xu urged the municipal government to make its online services more practical and efficient, and cover as many public services as possible.
GUANGZHOU: Guangzhou Information Technology Office has vowed to improve security of government websites following a spate of hacking attempts. In a guideline issued on Wednesday, the office detailed the mechanisms to deal with hacking attempts and how they should be reported. On May 8 and 9, the official website of Guangzhou Pricing Bureau was targeted by hackers, who changed all links to connect to pornographic websites. On July 20, the official website of Guangzhou State Land and Housing Administration was disabled for four days by hackers, and on July 26 hackers altered the homepage of Guangzhou Information Centre. The guideline is only part of the city's efforts to protect government websites from potential attacks, said Xu Jinghong, an official with the municipal information technology office. "The city is planning to construct a data back-up and emergency restoration system for official websites." Also, Guangzhou will set up a unified anti-virus system for government websites and will launch a security risk appraisal for websites and Intranets of different governmental organs and public facilities across the city in the second half of this year.
"The city's endeavours aim to minimize hacker attacks on government websites in the future," Xu added. "Some other government websites have also been attacked by hackers in the past few months, but they have not reported their attacks to us," said Gao Zhongxiao, director of Guangzhou Public Security Bureau's Internet supervision branch, at the press conference on Wednesday. "Insufficient Internet security employees, imperfect Internet security systems and insufficient protection technology give hackers opportunities," the director noted. Citing the outcome of a recent investigation, Gao said fewer than 20 per cent of government websites had installed hacker detection systems. Furthermore, few government departments have a mechanism to back up data, Gao said without giving an exact figure. About 75 per cent of municipal government organs have installed firewalls for their Intranet system; 87 per cent of them have taken anti-virus measures for their computers; and 67 per cent of them have an information security administration system, according to Gao.
China will reform its troubled public finance sector over the next three years through a more efficient electronic information system, Chinese Finance Minister Jin Renqing said on Monday. The new measures are aimed at eliminating corruption and Jin believes that the information system - the country's first Government Finance Management Information System (GFMIS) - will improve efficiency, reliability and transparency, making it more difficult for individuals to abuse their own power. Jin said China plans to set up the GFMIS in three years in order to make better use of public money and improve the management of State-owned assets. The project, which was listed last April by the State Development and Reform Commission as a State-financed program, will cover 4 trillion yuan (500 billion US dollars) in fiscal expenditure, 1 trillion yuan in non-tax fiscal and treasury bond revenues, and 6 trillion yuan in assets of government departments and institutions. Jin did not reveal how much the project will cost. The ministry began designing the information system in 1999 and it was listed in early 2002 by the Chinese Government as one of the government's 12 E-projects. The ministry's computer system is now connected to that of 36 finance departments of provincial governments or cities, 132 departments of the central government and the central bank.
Iran has officially launched its first Internet banking services, said the president of Post Bank here on Tuesday. According to IRIB News, Mahmoud Afzali further said that the bank＊s clients can receive all kinds of financial services online, adding that they can also purchase goods through the Internet from their Post Bank account. He said the 24-hour service marks a turning point in efforts to materialize electronic banking objectives. The official said Post Bank Internet Accounts will be opened for one million top students across Iran in a bid to promote e-banking culture. Minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Mohammad Soleimani said earlier that the ministry is ready to provide the banking system with 200,000 communication ports. The minister said 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. Network security is a key concept in electronic banking as the possibility of hackers breaking into the safest of Internet programs always exists.
The identity numbers of those who passed the Fukushima Prefectural Government's entrance exams have been leaked onto a popular Internet bulletin board, local officials said. Officials of Fukushima Prefecture's personnel commission said on Friday that 58 successful applicants' identity numbers were leaked onto the "Channel 2" bulletin board. After receiving an alert from an outside source on Thursday night, the personnel commission confirmed the leakage and then had the inside information deleted from the bulletin board early Friday. The commission had registered the identity numbers of successful applicants for fiscal 2006 entrance examinations on the prefectural government's computer server in a bid to block access by outsiders. But officials suspect that someone might have had access to the identity numbers because the file name was similar to the same information last year.
Japan's police force uncovered a record 1,802 Internet-related crimes during the first six months of 2006, the National Police Agency said on Thursday. The number of cases in which offenders were apprehended is the largest for the first half of the year since law enforcers began collecting data on Internet-related, or cyber, crimes in Japan in 2000. The number of crimes increased by 190, or 11.8 percent, from the same period last year. Of the 1,802 crimes, illegal access to information incidents increased by 67 cases, or 33 percent, from the previous period to 265. Motives for the illegal access cases varied. Illegal attempts to make money topped the list, with 230 cases, while offenders in 19 cases said they accessed Web sites illegally out of curiosity. In 10 cases, offenders said they tried to harass former lovers.
It's Cyber-Hammer Time for Local Governments
Bidders, an Internet site operated by DeNA Co., started holding public auctions in February 2005. At its first sale, 188 items went under the hammer, raising 10 million yen for the Yokohama and Fujisawa municipal governments of Kanagawa Prefecture. DeNA plans to set up a new site in September that will be used exclusively for public auctions and will help local governments sell off items. At Internet public auctions, users feel secure in bidding for items offered by local governments, while the governments can expect more participants, thus more profits, making them win-win events. At traditional public auctions, many of the items that are sold are relatively cheap ones, such as telephone subscription rights, and the final bid price is usually around the estimated price. At Yahoo's public auctions, about 80 percent of movable property and about 50 percent of fixed properties are sold. Movable properties usually fetch twice the estimated price on average, and fixed properties sell for around 1.4 times the estimated price. Local governments say they expect Internet public auction to act as warnings that tax defaulters will have their property auctioned off if they fail to pay up. The Tokyo metropolitan government said it had failed to collect 66.7 billion yen, or 3.9 percent of the total amount, in taxes in fiscal 2003. However, the situation improved in fiscal 2005 after it started using Internet auctions, and it collected 97.3 percent of due taxes, while the amount it failed to collect was reduced to 49.8 billion yen.
Local governments urgently need to reduce delinquent tax payments as some major tax revenue sources will be transferred from the central to local governments under the triple reforms of local finances. The Wakayama prefectural government plans in January to open an Internet site on Yahoo to sell unused public land, and expects 10 local governments from other prefectures to join in the venture. The Wakayama government has used the Internet to advertise vacant land in expensive residential areas, where former public housing for the prefectural government's vice governors and treasury chiefs are located. However, it has received no bids to date. "We expect many local governments to join our project, and many people to join in the bidding," a Wakayama prefectural government official said. The Finance Ministry held an auction on a site it set up in February and sold about 2,000 gold coins minted in the Meiji through to Showa eras for 500 million yen. The ministry plans to continue the auction until fiscal 2007. It offered 3,512 coins in August at a second auction, for which bidding has already closed. "Local governments have sold things through the Internet for the first time as public auctions," said Hiroharu Hori, a former Tokyo metropolitan government tax collector, who now works for Yahoo's public auctions section. "If confidence in the Internet is enhanced, they'll also start to use it in other ways."
Foreign workers in Korea will be able to consult with experts about health and safety conditions regarding their working environment through various means from July 6. The Ministry of Labor and the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA) Wednesday announced that to prevent and reduce foreign workers' occupational health and safety problems, they will operate a consultation service via the Internet, fax and telephone from Thursday. ※Due to language barriers and their social status, foreign workers have experienced difficulty in getting access to information related to preventing occupational disease or safety problems,'' KOSHA spokesman, Park Kil-sang, said. ``Especially for the convenience of foreign workers, the online service will allow them to submit their questions under anonymity.§ The web address is www.kosha.or.kr/foreignworkers. The fax number is (032) 5100-718 and the telephone numbers are and (032) 5100-718/719/720. The service will mainly inform workers of whether chemicals used in a particular workplace are harmful, while providing knowledge on health problems and symptoms caused from a worker's work environment. Foreigners can use the consultation service with only Korean and English languages recommended.
The launch of the world's first mobile Internet service this week is expected to change people's daily lives here as it liberates South Koreans from restraints on logging onto the Internet and prompts a move toward what is called the "ubiquitous era" of networking anywhere at any time, experts said Wednesday. Industry observers also predict the service will emerge as a new revenue source for the local communications sector at time when it is facing market saturation.
South Korea's Information Ministry said Thursday it started to provide vaccine programs for individual users of computers that run on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 98 operating system. The move comes as the U.S. software giant is poised to stop providing security patch files for Windows 98 on July 12, prompting concerns that PCs running on the system could be vulnerable to attacks by computer viruses or other disruptive codes.
Korea took the top spot in an international academic survey that graded e-governance capability, the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs said yesterday. The survey analyzed about 200 nations. The annual survey, conducted by Brown University in the United States, ranked Korea's e-government infrastructure No. 1 in the world. The survey examined and compared the availability of publications, databases and number of online services, the ministry said. Korea scored 60.3 points out of possible 100 points. The figure was followed by Taiwan, Singapore and the United States. The survey report said, "Korea's sites feature an impressive level of organization and offer a wealth of information and services. The Korean sites are also highly customizable with a majority allowing the user to manage his or her own activities. "The number of interactive features was also a key, the report said, adding that Korea's e-government Web forums give individuals the chance to petition a particular department.
The "e-government" portal is going to be ready to provide interactive services this December. Askar Zhumagaliyev, chairman of the Agency for computerisation and communication of RK, has stated this today, July 19, at a round table "Development of the e-government of RK and Kaznet," Kazakhstan Today correspondent reports. "Currently the portal is providing more than 500 services, but virtually all of them are of informational character, which complies with the strategy of the "e-government" development in the republic," - he has said. He has reminded that the strategy of the "e-government" development in Kazakhstan suggests four phases: a informational phase (currently), an interactive phase (planned for late 2006 - 2008,) a transaction phase (2008 - 2009,) and an "information society" phase (2009.) "The transition from the informational to the interactive phase suggests an opportunity of receiving certain permitting documents, references, and licenses via the internet and the "e-government" portal, - the Agency chairman has explained. He has also said that during the transition to the transaction phase of the "e-government" development it is planned to use the existing electronic payment system of the second level banks as a basis. "By 2009 the number of services provided by the "e-government" portal is going to increase to 900 services," - Mr. Zhumagaliyev has concluded.
The government of Kazakhstan has said its e-government portal will begin providing interactive services in December, reports Kazakhstan Today. The portal currently offers more than 500 services, the majority of which are non-interactive. The government has outlined a four-phase plan for its e-government strategy: an information phase (currently in place), an interactive phase (scheduled for late 2006 to 2008), a transaction phase (2008 to 2009), and an "information society" phase (2009). The interactive services to be provided include the issuing of certain permits and licences, and electronic payments will also be accepted. By 2009, the number of services offered through the e-government portal will rise to 900, according to Askar Zhumagaliyev, chairman of the Government's agency for computerisation and communication. Separately, Zhumagaliyev announced that 2,000 new "public internet venues" would be opened around the country, providing free access to the internet and the e-government portal.
As part of an effort to bring the tax service into the 21st century, its 32,000 staff in East Java are to be tested to see whether they can operate the service's new computerized system.Director General of Taxation Hadi Purnomo told reporters Thursday that the new system should reduce the time needed for processing tax returns and payments to only 30 minutes from three days previously. "I don't think that any of our officials will be dismissed if they don't pass the test, but they will definitely have to undergo intensive training for at least three months," he warned. He said that the test was part of the tax office's internal reform program, which was designed to improve the service provided to the public. This was in addition to cutting down on red tape and the introduction of computerization. "We expect that all the tax offices in the country will have been overhauled by 2007. Work will be completed on five more offices this April alone, including the one I just inaugurated here in Malang," he said. A total of 29 tax offices had already been modernized, and were able to serve large, medium and small taxpayers. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said that reforming and modernizing the tax service would be among the ministry's priorities for this year. She added that the reforms introduced to date had helped increase tax revenues to Rp 82 trillion in the first three months of the year, a jump of 30 percent compared to the same period last year. The government is hoping to raise Rp 416 trillion in taxes this year compared to last year's figure of Rp 351 trillion.
According to figures supplied by the Indonesian Association of Internet Providers, 16 million people in Indonesia currently have access to the Internet. Sofyan also said that a new joint venture between local and foreign companies would build an undersea communications network connecting Java and other islands in Indonesia. "We will sign an agreement with the joint venture next week," he said. However, he did not name the companies. The Information Access Center (IAC) was developed using a design produced by the Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion (KADO), which donated 55 linked personal computers and one server worth Rp 5 billion, with broadband Internet access facilitated by Wasantara.net. The center consists of an Internet lounge, seminar room, business center and workshops. Sofyan said that this integrated model should serve as an example for other internet and telephone rental providers throughout Indonesia.
The Perak government expects 60% of the populated areas in the state will go wireless in September, said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali. With Perak's own Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) in place and businesses coming in, the state was expected to become the next regional hub for telecommunication services, he told a press conference yesterday. He said the Perak MSC, located at Meru, Ipoh, was expected to be launched in September by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. ※We hope he will also launch Wireless Perak then,§ said Tajol Rosli, adding that about RM24mil was invested to establish the Perak MSC. Wireless Perak will be managed by Asia Gateway Communications (AGC), which owns wireless broadband solutions provider Red Snapper. Following yesterday's signing of an agreement with AGC, Perak State Economic Development Corp (SEDC) now owns 40% equity stake in the company, which is slated to be the flagship enterprise for Perak MSC. Tajol Rosli said AGC would be allowed to use SEDC's Perak Techno Trade Centre and two pieces of land totalling 22 acres for its future business. §When the service is fully deployed, it will allow users to have Internet access everywhere in Perak,§ he said. AGC chief executive officer Braham Singh said the company expected the wireless project to contribute US$10mil to revenue in its first year of operation and about US$100mil within the next five to 10 years.
APALIT, Pampanga: The P13.8-million computerization project here is expected to increase the town＊s revenues especially on real-property tax (RPT) collection. During the project＊s recent launching at the town＊s hall here, Mayor Tirso Lacanilao said the project aims to promote openness in government operations and generate more funds for projects in the province. He told reporters that Systems and Plan Integrator and Development Corp. (SPIDC) has installed the equipment on May 18. The contract signing between Lacanilao and the project proponents was held at the municipal hall on April 26. The engineer Julieta M. Cunanan, SPIDC president and CEO, said at least four main systems would be installed, which will include the real-property tax administration, business permit and license tax administration, treasury operations and income monitoring and the government appropriations and accounting management system. The municipality is expected to generate at least 30-percent collection on RPT at the end of 2006 and a possible 100-percent increase by the end of 2007. The local government could test the revenue-collection capability of computerization early next year since people often pay taxes during the first quarter. The SPIDC is specializing in government-based information and communications technology infrastructure development for local governments.
At least 18 LGUs have testified that their systems are working well as they noted an increase in their revenues from tax collections. ※I am pleased with the results of the city＊s investment in computerization. There was a 134 percent increase in revenue from business permits alone within six weeks of having the city＊s tax system automated,§ Mayor Arlene Zambo of Toledo City, Cebu, said. In a feasibility study conducted by the SPIDC, the municipal treasurer＊s report on total revenue collection from 2000 to 2004 indicated an efficiency rate in RPT collection of 75.37 percent for the basic and special education fund, and an average of 24.63 percent per annum for the actual RPTs that are due for collection. The report also suggested that systematic measures should be done to stabilize the growth rate and provide exact figures to forecast and plan other strategies for boosting revenue collection. The installation of information systems that is best suited for the task is imperative, as it will guarantee lesser time for paperwork preparation and allow more time for planning and field work (tax campaign), this will also provide executive with prompt and exact information for efficient and effective decision making, the study suggests.
The Prime Minister's Office yesterday appeared to compromise on the iTV concession dispute, saying it was now awaiting a ruling from the Office of the Attorney-General on how much the television station must pay in back-dated fees. Yesterday iTV Plc paid a 230-million-baht annual fee to the PM's Office as required in the concession contract dated July 3, 1995. The management maintained the Administrative Court's ruling on increasing the annual fee was not yet in effect. The Administrative Court last month overruled an arbitration panel's decision in 2004 which cut iTV's concession fee from one billion baht to 230 million baht a year and altered the news-to-entertainment ratio from 70:30 to 50:50. PM's Office permanent secretary Rongpol Charoenpan said iTV could not be forced to pay the higher concession fee at this time. "We have to wait. Right now we still don't know how big a fine the company is liable to," he said. There were also certain dubious points in the concession contract. The attorney-general had been asked to make a ruling on the fee and the Council of State would be asked to review the whole contract.
Mr Rongpol said the new committee set up to look into the concession dispute by caretaker Minister of the Prime Minister's Office Newin Chidchob had not yet discussed the matter with him. The office earlier calculated overdue concession fees over 20 years at 20 billion baht, but iTV argues the fine should be substantially lower, at 100 million baht a year. The TV station may also be subject to a penalty for having changed its news programming ratio. The concession dispute has gone to the Supreme Administrative Court after iTV appealed the lower court's ruling. Somkiat Tangkitvanich, director of the Thailand Development Research Institute, said the reaction of the PM's Office could be reflected in the fine imposed on iTV. "It's rather fishy from the beginning that the PM's Office sent a letter informing iTV about the fine, but did not set a deadline for a reply," he said. "Usually the office has to set a clear deadline for a response." Jon Ungpakorn, outgoing Bangkok senator and chairman of a campaign for independent television, wondered why the government agency initially insisted on an actual amount that iTV was obliged to pay. Mr Jon believed political influence was being brought to bear on the dispute. "From now on, all the government's procedures will be in favour of iTV, not in the best interests of the public," he said. Mr Jon planned to call a meeting of representatives of the people's sector, including the mass media, to look into this issue next week.
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and HP Labs have signed a three-year research agreement to establish the HP Shared Services Platform Laboratory (HP SSP Lab) in Singapore. This initiative is expected to help put Singapore on the world map in frontier research work on next-generation data centre and grid-related technologies. The agreement was signed by Boon Swan Foo, Managing Director of A*STAR and Dick Lampman, Senior Vice President of Research, HP, and Director, HP Labs. The joint R&D laboratory will initially be located at A*STAR's Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC). IHPC and the laboratory will be relocated to Fusionopolis when Phase 1 of Fusionopolis opens in late 2007. Fusionopolis is an info communications and digital media hub where companies, corporate labs and A*STAR's research institutes will co-locate, sharing state-of-the-art facilities and test-bedding infrastructure. The HP SSP Lab, powered by machines like HP Blade servers running on AMD processors, will drive technologies to meet the demands of a diverse and multi-disciplinary community in physical sciences, engineering, info-comms, digital media and enterprise. This is a major step in advancing grid utility technologies in Singapore.
A combined team of more than 30 researchers from IHPC and HP Labs will develop technology-based software tools and platforms that are intended to provision compute capabilities and software in a shared services delivery model. This collaboration is aimed at developing management software for "next-generation data centres" that run continuously, reliably and securely with minimal staffing. Boon Swan Foo, Managing Director of A*STAR said, "Singapore recognises the importance of utility computing in the scientific and business communities. We hope this collaboration will position Singapore as one of the leaders in cutting-edge data management service technologies." "This is the culmination of a year's collaboration based on a virtual lab concept. We are pleased that HP Labs has decided to join us as a major partner in Fusionopolis," Boon added. IHPC has been engaged in developing various software components that could be used to coordinate distributed resources and services. These components enable the resources to communicate in standard language, discover available resources and services in a virtual, dynamic environment, whilst co-operating with one another to execute an IT/compute job. Significantly, these components allow virtual resources to be shared within a multiple domain community of users in a transparent manner. As such, IHPC will be working with HP Labs to fully automate the creation, deployment, monitoring and management of such shared services deployed at Fusionopolis.
"HP wants to help our enterprise customers solve their business challenges through automation tools that will allow them to create an agile, cost-effective and predictable IT service environment," said Dick Lampman, Senior Vice President of Research, HP, and Director, HP Labs. "We hope through this collaboration with A*STAR in Singapore that we can generate some of the next-generation IT technologies, that will serve the needs of the public and business communities here and around the world." The HP SSP Lab brings new research capabilities to the company's already established R&D, manufacturing, Asia Pacific and Japan hub facilities in Singapore. HP has been in Singapore for the past 36 years and this HP SSP Lab builds on long-established relationships with the Singapore government agencies.
A high-tech National Cyber-threat Monitoring Centre will start operations early next year to keep Singapore's electronic networks safe from cyber hackers and terrorists. It is all part of the National Trust Framework under the new IT masterplan unveiled on Tuesday. The aim of the centre is to protect online assets and boost the confidence of companies looking to move their data systems here. The national cyber-threat monitoring centre will be one of the first in the region, and will be manned by infocomm security experts 24 hours a day 7 days a week at a location yet to be confirmed. "The centre will give us early warning about impending cyberthreats, and we should be able to disseminate such information and advise users on what sort of action they can take to mitigate such threats. The final outcome would be a safer cyber environment. As more services go online, a more pervasive use of such services can only come about when users are assured of the integrity safety of information and transactions online," said Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive, Infocomm Development Authority.
The Infocomm Development Authority was also quick to reassure users that the centre will only monitor activity that could be of threat, and not personal traffic. "Such a centre is not meant to monitor anybody's traffic. On the contrary, we want to monitor activity that could be of threat. Certainly, users can be assured the monitoring centre can only do more service to them, and increase assurance when they go online," added Mr Leong. Industry players welcomed the move. "If we can monitor things like hackers, terrorism and so on, we are able to give investors a peace of mind when they come to Singapore to invest and make Singapore the heart of their banks, the hub of research centre and so on. This would mean Singapore is very secured, so investors are willing to come in and invest more in Singapore," said Jeannie Tan, Senior Director, Asia-Pacific, PM-B Innovative Data Centre Designs.
"We will have a place where many of these data feedback come in, and emerging threats can be integrated so we have a better picture of what's really going on out there. If anything vital happens in the world, it will find its way to our shores very fast. If we are not able to discern what's happening quickly, we will be in a fair bit of trouble, so it will go some way to make it a safer place to operate in," said Tan Sian Lip, Director, Consulting, CrimsonLogic Pte Ltd. The national cyber-threat monitoring centre will work with other similar centres all over the world to come up with a coordinated response to viruses, hackers and terrorists in cyberspace, and protect the interests of businesses, individuals and the government online. Under the masterplan, IDA is also studying the possibility of a Cybersecurity Act to protect data and privacy, and is also pushing for spam control to be legislated.
Singapore was rated as the overall No 2 performer in a recent study on contact centres in the Asia-Pacific region. The Aspect Contact Center Index, a study developed by callcentres.net for Aspect Software, assesses the performance of call centres across categories such as customer service, sales, revenue, operations, technology and human resource. The study covers all industry segments in India, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand. South Korea and Singapore led the pack with scores of 75 and 71 respectively while relatively new entrants like Malaysia and Thailand scored 65 and 59 respectively. India and the Philippines, markets that have higher levels of outsourced contact centres, scored 64 and 66 respectively. Singapore's good placing was brought about by high scores in areas such as productivity, first call resolution rates, right party connect, sales conversion rates and low staff turnover rates. Although outsourced markets like India and the Philippines were placed low in the index, these markets saw the highest growth in profitability and revenue generation. Apart from their competitive wages, Dr Catriona Wallace, managing director of callcentres.net, explained that outsourced contact centres have a "significantly higher level of advanced technologies", which might provide cost savings.
The study pointed out that high turnover rates and agent absenteeism were some common problems plaguing the call centre industry in some countries. These were attributed to low wages and limited career advancements. However, the conclusions from the study suggest that the industry is aware of such shortcomings caused by the lack of initiatives in human resources. Mr Pramod Ratwani, vice-president of Aspect Software (Asia-Pacific and Middle East), noted that call centres are working on solutions to address the challenges faced in human resources. These solutions include "improving internal processes and investing in technology" to improve productivity and customer satisfaction. Technologies such as workforce management and quality monitoring software saw the highest usage among call centres, with the latter scoring the highest usage of 58 per cent among call centres. Dr Wallace also noted that "training and the implementation of new technology were two key initiatives that encouraged growth in all call centres".
From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 07/11/2006
The Subordinate Courts is looking to harness the latest innovations in technology to improve the court system. That is the idea behind iCourt, in which the Subordinate Courts is working with industry partners to implement technology like 3G mobile. The 3G application allows participants in court, like lawyers, to contribute to a case while on the move. The court wants to use the technology to reduce costs and improve communication. The 3G system, which will be integrated with a video conferencing facility, is due to be in use by next year. The Subordinate Courts and its partners will test the technology with the aim of putting it on the market. Said Senior District Judge Richard Magnus, "The outcome must be therefore beneficial to the justice system and process. And we realise there is a need to be of comparative advantage to our stakeholders. especially continue to be valuable and sustainable by the industry. I think therefore there is a recognition that this is going to be commercially driven." Another product the iCourt will be testing is the Mobile Barcode. The technology enables users to find out information like court time and number by taking a photo on their mobile phone of the barcode, which has an Internet link.
You will have to scroll to the link in order to download the information required. Among the other products being tested is the FTR Link, which provides tools like a digital audio recording function, so audio recordings of the proceedings can be copied and shared. And the system comes with an electronic pen, so that judges and court officers can link notes and take down court proceedings. Said District Judge Toh Han Li, "What we want to do is to be a catalyst for the private sector to see how they can apply their technologies to the justice sector. They may have a very good product but they may not understand how things work in a court. So by bringing them into the lab it is really a win-win solution." The Subordinate Courts plans to have some of the applications ready by the end of this year.
The National Telecommunications Commission says it can now allocate third-generation (3G) spectrum to mobile-phone operators to provide 3G services without having to await the creation of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). The Council of State has interpreted that allocating the radio spectrum specified by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as a standard for 3G is the NTC's area of responsibility. The cellular industry is counting on 3G technology, which can carry voice, data and multimedia content at very high speeds on mobile devices, to become a lucrative new source of revenue. Gen Choochart Promprasit, the NTC chairman, said the regulator had sought the legal interpretation in light of political infighting over the formation of the NBC, now five years behind schedule. Under the Frequency Management Act, licensing of 3G services is supposed to require joint consideration by both the NTC and the NBC as the frequencies also have broadcasting applications. However, the Council of State, the government's legal advisory body, has taken the view that the NTC has some leeway with regard to certain services. Gen Choochart said the full seven-member NTC board was still not unanimous on the scope of its authority and wanted telecom operators to apply for licences so that it could raise the matter for discussion again. He said the NTC had raised three points with the Council of State for clarification and these were the replies:
- The NTC has no master plan for national frequency management and also no separate tables of frequencies for telecom and broadcast usages. Therefore, allocation of frequencies that are for both broadcasting and telecom usage must be jointly considered by the NBC and the NTC. Any allocation of frequencies for telecom usage should have the support of the master plan for national frequency management under Article 51 of the Frequency Management Act.
- The frequencies table prepared by the Post and Telegraph Department and earlier endorsed by the National Radio Frequency Management Co-ordination Board could not be implemented under the Frequency Management Act because it was inappropriate and out of date.
- The NTC can allocate frequencies that are mainly for telecom usage under the ITU standards.
Gen Choochart said the NTC was now drafting a 3G licensing framework and once it was finished it would invite mobile operators to apply for licences. Once it received an application for 3G service, it would meet to consider how it could issue the licence and how the allocation of frequencies could be made. He said the NTC still had to await the creation of the NBC to prepare the master plan for national frequency management. An executive of a mobile-phone firm welcomed the Council of State's decision. "But the problem is that the NTC has yet to muster the courage to issue a 3G licence. In the past, the NTC has endorsed several proposals but if only one board member objects, all would choose to step back." He said Thailand was still behind as Cambodia had begun to issue the licences.
From http://www.bangkokpost.com/ 08/21/2006
HA NOI 〞 The Government has approved a plan submitted by the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry to support Vietnamese enterprises in applying information technology. The Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and relevant sectors would carry out the plan to help enterprises through the year 2010, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises, in building data and applying information technology (IT) in production and business with the goal to improve competitiveness in a period of economic integration into the world market, the VCCI said. The plan would also boost development of the IT sector and the process of industrialisation and modernisation in Viet Nam. Under the plan, enterprises would receive consulting on suitable IT solutions for their business needs, as well as IT training courses for the enterprises＊ workers, and economic information for the enterprises. Seminars and exhibitions would be held to bring product introduction and opportunities to exchange experiences to the businesses. The plan would also help enterprises implement e-commerce activities by helping them build websites to show products and services on the internet and connect with world markets. The VCCI will also conduct surveys of IT application in enterprises as well as study IT application in some foreign countries to help the Government in building policies applicable to the domestic business community.
HANOI : Vietnam's increasingly sophisticated Internet censors mostly block political rather than pornographic content, a new study by several of the world's top universities has found. The communist nation "is focusing its filtering on sites considered threatening to its one-party system," said a study by the OpenNet Initiative, a partnership of Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and Toronto universities. The state was targeting websites, blogs, email and online discussion forums, said the report released internationally this week. "While Vietnam claims its blocking efforts are aimed at safeguarding the country against obscene or sexually explicit content, most of its filtering efforts are aimed at blocking sites with politically or religiously sensitive material that could undermine Vietnams one-party system," it said. The 2005-2006 study found the technical sophistication, breadth and effectiveness of Vietnams filtering were increasing with time, and that the government had targeted Vietnamese language sites. Vietnam's two main internet service providers, FPT and VNPT, "filtered high percentages of politically sensitive content, including content related to political opposition, pro-democracy movements and human rights," it said. The report pointed out that cybercafes, where most Vietnamese access the Internet, are required to track all websites that their customers visit and record their ID card or credit card numbers. "Similar to China, Vietnam has taken a multi-layered approach to controlling the Internet; Vietnam applies technical controls, the law and education to restrict its citizens access to and use of information," said the report.
From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 08/10/2006
Biman Bangladesh Airlines is going to replace the conventional method of ticketing with the introduction of e-Ticketing system, to ensure an effective coordination with modern airlines. Under the new system, there will be travel schedule, ticket notice and a number on the ticket, which will be preserved in the airlines data system. The national flag carrier has decided to introduce the e-Ticketing system in line with the regulations of International Air Transport Association (IATA). The IATA has made it mandatory that world's all airlines should install the e-Ticketing system before December 2007.
New theories and techniques are being evolved with the passage of time. E-governance is such an innovation, or rather eventuality with full of potentials. Many theories and techniques are hard to put in place everywhere owing to variations of societal settings and cultural norms. However, e-governance promises and seems to be the exception. Its acceptance is worldwide thanks to its in-built credentials. Thus, it can be safely remarked that this very phenomenon has come to stay and thrive. Admittedly, developing country governments have been using IT for more than 40 years. So, what is new about e-governance? What's new is that -- as an ardent exponent of e-governance thinking Richard Heeks puts -- we are moving on from IT to ICTs and from IT to IS. The old model was one of information technology (IT) automating the internal workings of government by processing data. The new model is one of information and communication technologies (ICTs) supporting and transforming the external workings of governance by processing and communicating data. The old model also held information technology isolated from the mainstream of reform, or held IT as the objective of reform but the new model brings information systems (IS) to the heart of reform. In practice, this means two things:
A central role for ICTs: as governance becomes - and becomes recognized as even more information-intensive, ICTs become an essential part of more and more governance initiatives. ICTs are also recognized as a key lever to change. They are no longer isolated on the sidelines. An integrated role for ICTs: e-governance means using ICTs as servants to the master of good governance. ICTs are no longer seen as an end in themselves and they are seen to work only as part of a wider systematic 'package'. Overall, then, e-governance is the ICT-enabled route to achieving good governance. We might even prefer to think of it as 'i-governance' -- integrated governance -- since it integrates both the processing and communication technologies; and since it integrates people, processes, information, and technology in the service of governance initiatives. In simple terms, Electronic Governance is defined by scholars as giving citizens the choice of when and where they access government information and services. Putting the citizen at the centre of government means taking a delivery channel view. This would mean using more and more of Electronics & Information Technology in many of the government functions. In the current literature, most definitions of e-governance are loaded with its advantageous or virtuous connotations. For example, e-governance is considered a system of governance that represents 'good governance', that works better and costs less, that enhances accountability and responsiveness, that promotes civil society, and that is moral and transparent.
E-Governance should be seen -- as elaborated by Heeks -- to encompass all ICTs, but the key innovation is computer networks -- from intranets to the Internet -- creating a wealth of new digital connections: Connections within government - permitting 'joined-up thinking'. Connections between government and NGOs/citizens - strengthening accountability. Connections between government and business/citizens - transforming service delivery. Connections within and between NGOs - supporting learning and concerted action. Connections within and between communities - building social and economic development. Widespread global acceptance of electronic governance bears testimony to the observation that e-governance has rocked the governing systems in the world to a degree. As a matter of fact, it has revolutionized the systems of government service delivery and the developed states have made strides in adopting this technology driven mechanism. Countries such as USA, UK, Canada, France and such other economically dominant ones are about to have e-governance in a full fledged manner. Many other countries are in hot pursuit. Developing countries are not lagging far behind given their capacity. Bangladesh, too, has taken positives steps in this direction. Though Bangladesh has many other problems of overriding importance, its journey has started with due emphasis on e-governance at the state level. But making the facilities of e-governance accessible to all strata of people remains a critical problem for Bangladesh because the state is ill equipped to make it happen sooner rather than later.
Notably, however, production dimension of e-governance has been embraced really quickly by many a state but its informating aspect is being neglected even in the cradles of democracy. Seemingly, the true essence of e-governance is yet to be grasped well even by the champions. Sustained campaigns spearheaded by the e-governance exponents and the civil societies are, however, there to press home the message. Electronic governance depends on the use of information technology (IT) by the general population. The cyber-pessimists, however, believe that the use of IT in governance may worsen inequality in access to government services due to the lack of an adequate infrastructure, unequal ownership of computers, language constraints, and so on. There is also a concern that e-governance may disempower citizens by individualizing them, eroding their common bonds and endangering their privacy. Anyway, e-governance promises a lot to better the service providing functions. It also augurs well for democracy as it has the makings of enhancing people's participation through widespread internet access. But the fear of digital-divide, that is, discrimination between the information rich and the information poor has made the situation rather complex. If the digital divide is negotiated well, e-governance -- because of its extensive facilitating dimensions -- has every chance to make the world a better place to live in. The bottom line is that meteoric advancement of information technology has left us with no other option but to accept and absorb its varied ramifications. But, it will be a fallacy to think that e-governance is a mechanism to facilitate service provisions only. It is, in fact, a lot more than that. Its true significance lies in the proposition that it would pave the way for making people's choices more extensive and sophisticated, enhance people's participation in the spectrum of state policy making thereby giving democracy a better foundation. (By Kazi S.M. Khasrul Alam Quddusi)
INDIA: NSI, India, Starts Online Service for Citizens
A delegation of top academicians, led by UGC Chairman Sukhdev Thorat will meet a group of Saudi businessmen in Riyadh to explore the possibility of setting up an Information and Communication Technology centre there with Indian assistance. At a meeting with education Minister Abdullah Al-Obaid, Union HRD minister Arjun Singh, who is visiting the country, offered India's support in setting up an ICT centre of excellence in Riyadh. Indian officials have said that president of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Abdu Rahman Al-Jeraisy had shown keen interest in the Indian proposal.
Union Minister for Science and Technology and Ocean Development, India, Shri Kapil Sibal unveiled the proposal for creation of National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) as considered and approved by the Union Cabinet. NSDI is a kind of soft infrastructure to be built at the national level for coordination, acquisition, processing, storage, distribution and improved utilisation of spatial (geographic location) data. Geographical information 每 accurate and up-to-date is a critical input to any investment decision. Without this, decisions tend to be taken on subjective and extraneous considerations often leading to inefficient and wasteful spending of scarce resources. NSDI will also minimise the huge 'transaction costs' encountered by any potential user of spatial data. NSDI will facilitate extension of this advantage to the geospatial industry. The activities of the NSDI will be coordinated with the help of a two-tiered structure, the National Spatial Data Committee (NSDC) and the Executive Committee (EC).
The Union Government of India is likely to add a new project called `e-District' to the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) to cover local high-volume services. The cost of this project could be close to Rs 1,000 crore spread over five years, although the final calculation is yet to be arrived at. 'e-District will include large number of applications that citizens come to Government for, which are high volume and involve low processing. These could include applications for ration cards, birth and death certificates, application for house site and old age pension, and caste certificate. It will encompass all welfare benefit programmes including National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) scheme. e-district would be implemented as an integrated sector project through the State Governments.
With the realisation of e-Governance projects in India, the time has come to review the role of the public sector as well as private sector to speed up the process of implementation of different projects related to e-Governance. The government agencies throughout the world are considering and conducting e-Governance initiatives with the help of private players; the scene in India is much the same. As far as the e-Governance initiatives are concerned, the three Ps〞 public-private partnership model requires less investment from the government. R Chandrashekhar, joint secretary, department of information technology, government of India, stated that they welcome private participation in fulfilling the e-Governance initiatives of the Government of India. But this participation can only happen at the front-end level since the government is handling all the back-end work. For example, in the case of ICT kiosks, any private party can do the setting-up of a kiosk, but to run that kiosk the government will provide all support. Some of the IT companies like Microsoft, Sun, IBM, TCS, HCL Infosystems and Adobe have taken a pioneering role in e-Governance projects. The public-private partnership is very important in the successful implementation of e-Governance projects in India.
The Department of Justice of India has taken up a major decision to computerise 29 capital city courts in cooperation with the National Informatics Centre (NIC). The computerization project of the capital city courts in the States and Union Territories is a scheme with 100 percent central funding. Under the project all the 900 courts located in the State capitals and Union Territory headquarters will be linked by automated decision-making and support systems being developed, delivered, installed and implemented by the NIC. This would help the judicial administration in strengthening its routine activities, reduce the tendency of cases by implementing appropriate automated process and provide an easy and transparent information access to the litigants. The systems would also provide the judges better access to legal and judicial databases. The NIC is providing necessary computer hardware and software.
The second phase of the all-India income-tax network is expected to be almost ready by this year-end. Work is also on in full swing to set up the all-India annual information returns (AIRs) based database for speedy transmission of vital information, with the main server in Delhi, a replica in Mumbai, and a back-up facility at Chennai. Mr G. Choudhuri, Commissioner of Income-Tax, Computer Operations, Kolkata said that the national database will eventually be connected to the network to facilitate nationwide tracking of key information leads culled through AIRs. He added that as per the latest feedback available from the headquarters zone, the network is likely to be in place and become operational by January. Describing the networking exercise as massive, he said that it would cover as many as 510 locations through 750 offices of the Department all over the country. Networking of the local zone (Kolkata) is being handled by IBM India.
In India, the administration of Chandigarh has geared up to make the entire city wireless within next one year. It is roping in Intel to spread the Wi-Max technology throughout the country. The aim is to ensure connectivity for the masses. Speaking on the concluding day of e-Revolution 2006, Vinesh Paperwala, District Manager, Intel South-East Asia said, stated that when there is digital education, digital security, healthcare and an open interaction between the government and people, the collaborated effort can lead to increased access and usage of ICT for citizens. It also aims to provide WLAN technology and connect the entire city. All prominent locations in the city would be Wi-Fi Zones, where wireless tech would be used to provide high speed Broadband connectivity.
The State of Madhya Pradesh has achieved a position among front ranking states including Kerala, Delhi, Gujarat and Goa in the fast emerging area of e-Governance as revealed in a countrywide survey carried out recently by 'Data Quest' magazine. The magazine listed 18 states out of 28 States and 7 Union Territories of India on the basis of human index for the survey. The magazine opines though all the states in India have accorded priority to giving good governance in their agendas, but very few states could fulfil their targets so far. A number of states are well behind with slow progress. The survey work included government services and their benefits to people and corporations through e-Governance. Madhya Pradesh has been adjudged best in providing health services, land sale and purchase deal, through e-Governance and second in vehicle registration, land registration works. It also occupies top position in rendering pubic utility services to the citizens in the areas like municipal corporation, land (revenue), income tax and law through e-Governance whereas the e-Governance arrangement made by the Department of Commercial Taxes and Urban bodies in their respective institutions in respect of areas of trade and commerce are the best in the country.
The State Government of Haryana, India, is planning to deploy a statewide area network entitled ADHAAR that will connect the state headquarter office at Chandigarh to all the district head quarters at the Block/ Sub-Division/ Tehsil/ Sub- Tehsil levels to support all its e-Governance initiatives. In addition to providing the network, ADHAAR, will act as intranet between various units in the state and enable the state government to take IT-led citizen services to all the rural areas and manage various state government projects and programmes. Haryana State Electronics Development Corporation (HARTRON) is the nodal agency of Haryana Government, which will be overseeing the implementation. The main objective of the project is to create a robust networking infrastructure throughout the state which will ensure seamless connectivity, allow exchange of data, voice, images and facilitate such services as email messaging and video conferencing between various state government offices.
The Finance Ministry of India has made it mandatory for all government departments and public sector companies to go in for e-Procurement and e-Payment to save on costs. Ban on transfers, foreign travel, purchase of vehicles and cut in budget expenditure are among a series of austerity measures initiated by the finance ministry. In a major concession to the changing ways the government does business, e-Procurement and e-Payment will be the norm for all departments. This means tax filing and refund orders, booking of contracts and even the exchange of salary advice for the millions of government employees, will be done electronically.
Chennai (India) would be joining the elite group of 17 centres with the recently launched India's largest e-Governance initiative by the Ministry of Company Affairs and a Mission Mode project under the Government of India's National e-Governance plan in Tamil Nadu.
MCA 21 has already been successfully implemented, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, and Hyderabad. Launching the landmark project in Chennai, Union Communications and IT Minister, Dayanidhi Maran said that the MCA-21 project was the largest full-scale deployment of Information Technology in the Government of India, in the shortest possible time frame and would revolutionise the way India Inc., interfaces with the Government. Maran said the initiative has been adopted as a 'thrust area' project for the Government of India. The Minister said that the program incorporated 27 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) and 8 support components to be implemented at the Central, State and Local Government levels. Maran also informed of the establishment of a State Wide Area Network across India at a cost of Rs 3344 crore and the proposal to set-up 100, 000 Common Services Centres that would extend reach of electronic services, both government and private to the village level. The program is designed to 'facilitate' the delivery of services while ensuring 'compliance' at the same time.
SAP India and the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore have entered into an MoU to work together in areas of public sector and e-Governance in India. Under this MoU, SAP would support IIMB's Centre for Enterprise Resource Planning, whilst IIMB's faculty would collaborate with SAP in the creation, sharing and dissemination of knowledge on e-Governance. After signing the MoU the Professor and Dean of IIMB, Mr Shyamal Roy, said SAP would supply study and teaching materials to CERP, which provided a stepping stone for e-Governance. IIMB was actively working towards creating a platform for cost effective implementation of e-Governance, which could usher in competitiveness and good governance. The SAP CEO and Chairman of Executive Board, Mr Henning Kagermann, said the world IT business was estimated at $1,000 billion, of which the share of the governments was 25 per cent but still remained largely untapped. The MoU was not a business proposition, but a tie-up to solve the constraints being faced by the Governments and PSUs which would lead to better service to citizens, he said. The President and CEO of SAP India, Mr Alan Sedghi, said the major focus of the tie-up was to create flexible platform to disseminate knowledge in education system. Many governments in Asia, including Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and some North Asian countries, had successfully adopted the SAP e-Governance platforms.
Uttaranchal is embarking on an ambitious statewide e-Governance project, with a little help from Singapore. CrimsonLogic, a Singapore-based IT solutions firm, which has successfully executed several e-Gov projects in Singapore, is planning to build a citizen data vault to store statistical and biometric data of its eight million citizens. CrimsonLogic will design, develop and implement the vault and develop a statewide public key infrastructure (PKI) for the secure delivery of e-Governance services to Uttaranchal's citizens and its businesses. The vault will serve as Uttaranchal's central data hub and the single source of citizen data for all its 109 government departments. This is the largest IT project undertaken by Uttaranchal government with private help and will be implemented by the end of the year on a fast track basis.
Pakistan's Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) has rolled out an online recruitment system for civil service jobs. The two-year, 38.6 Pakistan rupees million (US$640,000) project means that candidates will now be able to apply for civil service and other government positions online. Users will be able to create profiles and receive e-mail alerts about jobs that match their stated criteria. They can also use the system to keep track of the results of civil service examinations and to be informed of impending interviews. Previously, the FPSC had to print this information and send it to candidates by post. A computer lab has been established at the FPSC in Islamabad to manage the new system, and about 300 staff have been given basic IT training. The Government said that, in the next phase, an online examination system would be rolled out so that candidates would not have to travel in order to sit exams.
The Information Technology plays an important role towards the process of the development of the country. This was stated by the Minister of State for Law, Justice and Human rights, Chaudhry Shahid Akram Bhindar. He was speaking as guest of honour at the ITCN Asia held here at the Karachi Expo centre.The minister was of the view that the IT also provides good job opportunities especially for the educated youths in the country. On the occasion, he also recounted the steps that have been initiated by the present government under the leadership of President Pervez Musharraf. He said that a number of incentives are being provided in the realms of IT.Shahid Bhindar also lauded the efforts of the organisers of the ITCN Asia. He also showed keen interest in the stalls set up by various companies.
The federal government has called for expressions of interest in using an $878 million fund for major broadband projects. Communications Minister Helen Coonan said she wanted to hear from companies, as well as local and state governments, on possible projects to be funded under the Broadband Connect program. "There is a unique opportunity to use a substantial proportion of these funds to leverage private investment in Australia's regional broadband networks and improve access to broadband services across the country," Senator Coonan said in a statement. Senator Coonan said she hoped the new projects would link with other government subsidised projects under the $1 billion Connect Australia program - a fund which came out of talks with the Nationals to ensure the passing of laws allowing the full sale of Telstra. She said the projects would also need to ensure fair and reasonable wholesale access and competition at the retail level. The expressions of interest close on July 14.
THE Attorney-General's Department is looking for a new service provider that can hook the broad range of information systems used in anti-terrorism efforts into a single, coherent system. The federal department is seeking one or more suppliers to build an information management system for its Protective Security Co-ordination Centre Watch Office. The tender documents reveal that, because of the complexity of the department's needs, it had taken a modular approach in developing the system requirements for the project, and they had been grouped according to service types. The department is seeking a system that is "flexible enough to be cost-effectively modified and enhanced over the life of the contract to account for changing business requirements", the tender document reveals. The four-year contract can be extended for a maximum of two extra years before the business must again be put to the market.
AUSTRALIA Post will to launch an online authentication system to be used by government agencies and businesses in the next three months. It has been working on the system for two years and is in final negotiations with preferred supplier VeriSign. The token-based system would interface with online services and networks requiring strong authentication, according to Australia Post. Customers would be able to use one authentication device to access multiple online services. "The utility will provide business and government with a low-cost, easily accessible system to prevent unauthorised access and use of online accounts and corporate networks," an Australia Post spokesman said. Talks were continuing with VeriSign but no contract had been signed, he said. Australia Post expects to announce a launch date in the third quarter. The system used for the service is not expected to receive or store identity or customer account information. Australia Post had claimed earlier that the service would be largely invisible to consumers.
GLOBAL technology consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton has been appointed lead advisor to the Office of Access Card and will act as project manager for the $1.1 billion implementation. The announcement is the first of several key appointments to be made for the fast-tracked government health and welfare services smartcard. Human Services Minister Joe Hockey said the tender for lead advisor attracted a strong response from around the world. "The access card is being approached as a critical piece of national infrastructure," Mr Hockey said. "Booz Allen Hamilton was judged as the best choice, being both a global player with a strong local presence, and having overseen the implementation of 25 smartcard programs in the US and Europe. "The lead advisor will co-locate its project team within the Office, and bring key people into Canberra." The deal involves "a series of contracts over the life of the project", with an initial $4 million over the next three months to outline the project plan, business architecture, technology specifications and budget. This work will be subject to review by the yet to be announced program monitoring and assurance consultant. Further appointments include a deputy secretary to take charge of the Office, and a chief technology officer. Mr Hockey said the department undertook a thorough evaluation of all prospective advisers, including direct enquiries of government and private sector project sponsors and an independent probity review. "This appointment is a key step in moving the project forward," he said. "The card will make life easier for users of health and social services by streamlining how people register for and access payments and services."
THE Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs has already spent a fifth of the $495 million budget for its high-profile technology overhaul. In less than six months the department has placed orders worth $90 million, and more than 400 contractors have been brought in to carry out work. The department has also outlined a tight timetable for rolling out almost 60 portals that staff will use to access core information systems. Chief information Bob Correll said the department should have 13 portals launched by the end of July 2007, barely a year after it awarded the first contracts for the revamp. These will be followed by at least another two waves of portal launches scheduled for September next year and January 2008. The department is using a $16.5 million bridging contract with IBM to start building the portals while it negotiates a longer term performance-based contract with the services giant. The long-term IBM contract, flagged by the department in June, was expected to be in place by the end of September and would be worth between $200 and $300 million, Mr Correll said. "We have a very aggressive timetable for Systems for People and we've a large number of projects operating at the present stage," he said. "We have some 50 plans already enacted and more are being worked up as each day goes by."
The four-year Systems for People project is made up of more than 200 individual programs and the department is moving quickly to introduce new systems. The technology overhaul was sparked by a scathing assessment of the department's information systems in the Palmer report into the wrongful detention of Australian citizens Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez Solon. Mr Correll said the Australian National Audit Office was keeping a close eye on the project as part of an independent audit and evaluation committee. The office had not yet foreshadowed any audits but it would have access to reports filed by Systems for People's independent quality assurance adviser Ernst and Young, he said. The consultant will monitor the installation of all new information systems in the department, including the first wave of portals in April. The department has previously said the first five portals will cover case management, compliance, visa processing, border security and internet services. Mr Correll said the department had developed plans for a further eight portals to be switched on in July. Those would cover detention services, client self-service and citizenship, among other functions.
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, today launched the 2006 Secrets of Australian ICT Innovation competition. ※Now in its fifth year, the competition recognises and assists Australian ICT innovators to market their technology to the world,§ Senator Coonan said. ※Australia looks to these innovative companies to show to the world that we can produce leading products and services that will transform businesses and increase wealth. ※The Australian Government is proud to support the Secrets competition because it celebrates and recognises the vast pool of talent in Australian ICT firms.§ Since its inception in 2002 the competition has attracted more than 700 applications from companies across Australia. Entrants compete for the opportunity to showcase their talents both nationally and internationally to a global audience of customers, partners and investors. Applications are invited in seven categories with up to three winners in each category sharing in $105,000 worth of prizes. The competition categories are: business industrial software solutions, communication applications, commerce, health, security, learning and entertainment. ※In launching the 2005 competition I encouraged the industry to get behind this competition either as an applicant or a sponsor,§ Senator Coonan said. ※I was pleased to see Cisco Systems and Dell Australia provided sponsorship support in 2005 and I am very pleased to acknowledge their continued support in 2006 as major sponsors of the competition. ※I would encourage all those companies considering sponsorship to get behind this competition that is doing so much to promote Australia globally as a producer of truly innovative ICT solutions for a broad range of sectors. Recognition is not only important for individual winners, it is important for the industry as a whole as it competes in a global market.§ Applications close 20 October 2006.
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, today announced a review into the policy, administrative and regulatory arrangements that underpin the operation of the .au Internet domain. ※The .au domain has been operating under an industry self-regulatory model for over five years. In that time the Internet has grown significantly in both economic and social importance to Australians,§ Senator Coonan said. ※As with any self-regulatory model, it is appropriate to conduct a periodic review to ensure policy goals continue to be met and .au continues to be administered efficiently, effectively and in the best interests of all Australian Internet users. ※The review will be conducted by my department and will consider a range of matters related to .au as recommended in the April 2006 Report of the Taskforce on Reducing Regulatory Burdens on Business (Banks Taskforce). The review will specifically consider competitiveness, cost effectiveness, consumer protection aspects of domain name arrangements in .au domain, security and stability arrangements within .au domain, emerging Internet issues, technical standards and the global policy environment. ※I am currently considering the terms of reference for the review and will announce them shortly§, Senator Coonan said. ※The views of the current domain operator, .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA), together with domain name registrars/resellers and Internet users, will be an important input to the review.§ auDA is a not-for-profit body which the Australian Government endorsed in December 2000 as the appropriate body to administer the .au domain space. The Government holds reserve powers in relation to domain names under the Telecommunications Act 1997.
THE contract will be awarded this week for the construction of the first prison in Australasia to use radio frequency identification to track prisoners. The ACT government has allocated $128.7 million for the establishment of ACT's first prison, the Alexander Maconochie Centre, named after the 19th century penal reformer. The RFID system will provide real-time tracking of prisoners and prison officers, ACT Corrective Service senior manager Roger Holding says. A decision on a provider of the system is yet to be made. The security subcontractor for the project, likely to be Honeywell or Chubb, will decide on the provider of the RFID system, ACT Corrective Service ICT manager Andreas Wullen says. So far four companies have signalled interest in supplying the system, he says. These include US-based Alanco Technology, Israel-based Elmo-Tech and Australian-based Protrac iD and Telstra. Prisoners will fitted with a RFID bracelet or anklet and prison guards will wear a pager that emits a radio signal. "Within a secure perimeter we want most prisoners to make their way around the complex without staff escorts," Holding says.
"We also want to minimise staff engaged in continuous supervision of prisons, or watching closed circuit monitors." The technology will not reduce staff numbers, he says. A signal from the RFID tags will be sent every two to eight seconds, containing information such as the bracelet's identity and the status of the device. By triangulation of the signals, picked up by several readers, the position of the prisoner will be determined. The system will raise an alarm if a prisoner enters a restricted area, or if they're not where they're supposed to be, such as a classroom. If the bracelets are tampered with, an alarm will be raised. Similar RFID tracking systems already operate in five US prisons and two in Europe. The 374-bed ACT prison, which will accommodate male and female prisoners, is expected to open in early 2008.
THE two main regulators watching the telecommunications industry will put rules governing the sector under the magnifying glass in a bid to strip out red-tape. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Communications and Media Authority would examine the regulatory reporting requirements the industry operated under, Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan said. he move stemmed from recommendations of the Taskforce on Reducing the Regulatory Burdens on Business, chaired by Gary Banks, which reported to the federal Government in January. The government made its final response to the report this week. "The full range of regulatory reporting obligations on the industry, including Telstra as well as other carriers, is being examined," Senator Coonan said. Telstra has long complained that it is over-regulated and subject to more onerous rules than its competitors. Senator Coonan said she was confident that the review would ease the reporting burden on telcos. "Even at this early stage, ACMA has advised that it has recently reviewed and substantially reduced reporting requirements under Section 105 of the Telecommunications Act, 1997," Senator Coonan said.
Section 105 deals with the Telecommunications Performance Report published annually by ACMA. The recent decision to review the regulatory framework governing the administration of the ".au" internet domain was also based on the recommendation of the Banks report, Senator Coonan said. Portions of the Customer Service Guarantee would also be reviewed, she said. In a separate announcement, the government also released its how-to guide for dealing with the issue of professional liability for small IT companies doing work for the government. The guide and accompanying quick reference would help government agencies develop policy and industry understand its implementation, she said. Government policy was now that unlimited supplier liability should only be included in contracts where there was a "compelling reason", rather than as a matter of course, Senator Coonan said. Small technology businesses have complained that the requirement for unlimited liability assurances effectively prevented them from bidding for government contracts, giving large multinationals an advantage even on smaller projects.
THE number of Australian households filling in census forms online has climbed to nearly 732,000. Many more are expected to help update national statistics via the web before the service is shut down in two weeks time. Australian Bureau of statistics spokesman Tony Baccari said 731,850 census returns had been filed online to date. "We are still getting them in," he said. The ABS planned to close its e-census site on August 28, but the date could be changed. "We are making a judgement call on that," Mr Baccari said. Around 10 per cent of households are expected to file census returns online, Mr Baccari said.
The Special Minister of State, The Hon Gary Nairn MP has congratulated the ACT Chapter of the Australian Information Industry Association for their initiative in establishing a presence in the Australian Capital Territory and highlighted the importance of an effective engagement between the Australian Government and the ICT industry. Mr Nairn presented the keynote address to the meeting in Canberra and highlighted opportunities for the ICT industry resulting from the e-Government strategy he launched earlier this year. Key initiatives including smartcard development; IT security and ICT skills were highlighted. ※Essential engagement with the ICT industry must exist in order to produce high quality projects with the Australian Government.§ ※We invest $5 billion annually in ICT and an additional $2.7 billion was committed in the 2006-07 Budget. This is proof positive of the priority this government places on ICT and the significant opportunities which exist for industry to work with us on innovative solutions that meet government needs. Mr Nairn emphasised the importance of mechanisms to improve procurement processes between government and the ICT industry.
※The SourceIT model contracts provide templates for Australian Government agencies to develop sound commercial agreements efficiently and effectively. It is expected that these model contracts will encourage good business practice and minimise the risk of disagreement between agencies and suppliers. The initial suite of draft contracts, support the simple procurement of software, hardware and ICT consultancy services. ※We＊re enhancing the ways industry interacts with government. SourceIT is a good example of how government is streamlining ICT procurement and making this aspect of the relationship more efficient. ※The Government＊s announcement to limit supplier liability in ICT contracts is an important step in improving the procurement process. ※The Government is continuing to work with the AIIA and the ICT industry in progressing the SourceIT model contracts,§ Mr Nairn said. The Minister also said that he would like to see more ICT projects undertaken by industry and he outlined his expectations for stronger project management. ※The relationship between the Australian Government and the AIIA is strong and effective 每 it＊s essential this relationship continues to flourish§, Mr Nairn said. Mr Nairn said there were opportunities for greater teaming between Australia and International companies and highlighted the potential benefits of the US Free Trade Agreement, with regard to export opportunities.
THE federal Health Department's flagship Eastern Goldfields health broadband project has delivered "an extensive list of lessons learnt", but little else. Some $17 million has been spent on a high-speed virtual private network linking 80 sites in Western Australia. But the regional reference site has been plagued by problems, according to a report obtained by The Australian. "The federal Government has invested a large amount of time and money in this with a view to expanding the concept," the evaluation by Peter Farr Consultants said. "However, the cost-effectiveness is still to be justified, and the financial impost to extend the concept is likely to be large." The network is "still fragile", with users still having limited familiarity and confidence in the technology deployed, it said. When federal funding ended in June, "some participants were still trying to establish the basic technology, particularly those linked by satellite".
Only 27 doctors out of a possible 50 were "at least occasional users" of their GoldHealth email accounts, and few were using the streaming audio and video capabilities. Major hurdles for medical practices included problems with IP telephony and doctors were given mobile phones as an emergency backup. "The experience with IP telephony has been mixed. Some people reported difficulties with usability, services and options," the report said. Despite the problems, the GoldHealth network has enough support to continue on a commercial basis, IP Systems national healthcare manager Geoffrey Forrester said. "All 23 GP sites have committed to a further two years' service at the pricing we've put to them," he said. "Most doctors will also retain their home access points, while most pharmacies, the two hospitals and two aged-care facilities are in." Other divisions of general practice were looking at developing networks, "and our aim would be to work with them", Mr Forrester said.
THE Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called on the Government to encourage growth of the information communication technology sector. In its budget submission to the Finance Ministry, it said ICT was the most neglected sector in the Strategic Development Plan, yet it held the key to unlocking and unleashing the potential of all the nine sectors in the plan. "India has already identified Fiji as its redundant site. It controls 50 per cent of the global IT enabled services, imagine what it could do to our fledgling economy if we were able to tap into just a fraction if its market," chamber president Taito Waradi said. "An entirely new incentive package is required and immediately for the ICT sector. Otherwise, the world will pass us by," Mr Waradi said. He said the Indian growth had been attributed to its reform program, which began 15 years ago, focussing on the growth of its IT capability in particular. The result, he said, was that today India had two thirds of IT offshore services. ""I believe that Fiji's future lies in the service sectors of tourism remittance and IT."
THE Department of Education, Science and Training is planning to replace most of its personal computer hardware. It has requested tenders for desktop PCs, laptops and smartphones for a mobile workforce. About 2000 of the department's 2800 desktop PCs and half its 300 laptops are due to be replaced mid-year. Remaining PCs will be replaced by 2010. Desktops still account for most of the PC fleet, but laptops are becoming more important and the department has outlined a move towards a more flexible desktop working environment. Similarly, the move to mobility could mean an increase in the number of smartphones and personal digital assistants, but the numbers detailed in a separate tender request are indicative only of current requirements, according to the department. "The department has planned, or is implementing, a range of initiatives aimed at improving mobile connectivity of staff," according to tender documents. Two laptop variants have been specified: a general-purpose model for mainstream use and a portable model weighing less than 1.8kg for mobile staff.
To cope with the mobile environment, the department is also seeking common docking systems for the mobile fleet, specifying a more basic port replication model, as well as a more advanced model that has additional storage drives. All PCs procured will be required to run gigabit ethernet connections. Minimum specifications appear to have been framed with one eye on the coming release of Microsoft's power-hungry Vista operating system. Laptops must have processors running at 2GHz as a minimum, as well as 80GB hard drives and at least 1GB of RAM, preferably expandable to 2GB. Desktop PCs must run at 3.2GHz, and have 120GB hard drives and 1GB of RAM. PCs are expected to have a useful life of at least four years, and PDAs and smartphones should last for at least three years. Smartphones and PDAs must run Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 and come equipped with Bluetooth and WiFi connections. Smartphones must be compatible with the remote kill security functions built into the Microsoft operating system, which allows a phone's memory to be cleared by remote control if lost or stolen. The PC request for tender includes a requirement for desktop printers for personal use. The PC, and smartphone and PDA tenders are expected to be evaluated by next month. Delivery is required to begin in September.
NANJING: Legal professionals in East China's Jiangsu Province have teamed up to create a website that will offer free help and advice to young people in the province. The website will go online next week. "We got permission to open the website last month, and more than 500 lawyers from across the province have already signed an agreement to extend voluntary consultancy to youngsters through the website," Shen Benjin, vice-director of the Underage People Protection Commission under the Jiangsu Provincial Association of Lawyers, told China Daily yesterday. According to Shen, their association has been working for years to set up this network. The website's address is www.jsls.org/helpkids/index. "The main reason for the high juvenile crime rate is that the country still lacks awareness of treating youngsters as a group with legal rights that deserve to be respected. Adults can abuse youngsters subconsciously, and we, as legal professionals, should shoulder responsibility to change the situation," said Shen. According to Shen, infringements by schools, parents and society as a whole on children's education and life rights are the main issues at present. Several cases of pupils being deprived of the right to study and forced to work in factories have been reported across the country recently. According to a report by Nanjing-based Yangtze Evening Post last week, a local court in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, fined four companies 10,000 yuan (US$1,250) to 40,000 yuan (US$5,000) for hiring juvenile workers. Lowering the juvenile crime rate is another goal of the website, according to Shen.
"Youngsters are vulnerable to many unhealthy influences in this time of social transition. They might fall into a life of crime if no one helps them. We hope our efforts can help ease this problem a little bit," said Shen. News of the website was warmly received by children and parents in the province. "At the moment we are required to obey parents and teachers unconditionally. Sometimes I doubt their decisions, but there is no way to challenge their authority. But now I can ask these lawyers about whether an adult's decision is right or wrong," said Wu Haoming, a middle school student in Nanjing. For Wu Jing, Wu Haoming's father, "such a voluntary network can eliminate financial concerns of parents when we are protecting the rights of our victimized children. Hiring a lawyer is not something that every family can afford." As well as dealing with issues raised through the website, the lawyers will also voluntarily extend help in legal cases they come across in their daily lives, said Xi Hui, an employee of the commission. Furthermore, the commission will work with local educational bureaus to raise legal awareness among children. This year several similar websites have been established by legal professionals in major cities across the country, Xi added. "Hopefully one day, with attention and support from the whole of society, the legal rights of young people will get the respect they deserve," said Xi.
The telecommunication industry in China maintains a sound and fast growth. According to the statistic of the Ministry of Information Industry (MII), telephone users in China had mounted to 775 million by April 2006. Song Naiqi, an official with the Office of the Telecommunications Authority under MII, revealed in Shenyang, Liaoning province. She added that the number consisted of 360 million fixed telephone users and 415 million mobile phone users. (People's Daily Online) Intel, the world's biggest chipmaker, has unveiled its SMB Essentials plan in China, a programme that targets the country's small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) market. Under the scheme, the US chipmaker will partner with local governments, computer makers, software developers and telecom operators to provide IT application and counterpart services to SMEs. (China Daily)
An information service kiosk specifically designed for farmers started operation on a trial basis at the Jinglingqiao village of Songjiang District, and will expand to suburbs citywide later. Such terminals, namely agricultural scientific and technological ATMs, offer agricultural knowledge, weather reports and market information to farmers. With simple page-designs and functions, the terminals are easily accessible to farmers who can also purchase pesticides via the machines and receive them on a specific day. Shanghai plans to establish 40 comprehensive service centers for farmers this year, and such ATMs will be available in the 40 centers and also 40 villages in Songjiang District on a trial basis.
Two agricultural management software were successfully developed by Shanghai Jiao Tong University＊s (STJU) Digital Agricultural Laboratory recently, which indicates a new step towards multi-disciplinary cooperation. The newly developed software, 'HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) management system of exported vegetables' and 'JDW management system of pit plate seeding and planting', upgrade the agriculture management to a digital level. Professor Huang Danfeng who is in charge of the project, from the School of Agriculture and Biology and STJU, stated, "Modern digital agriculture must cling to a more integrated innovation. Modern agricultural is not a simple process of seeding, planting and manufacturing. It is also an integration of information management and intellectual mechanical technology." Since the 1999 merger of STJU and Shanghai Agricultural College, the STJU has strongly supported the industrialization and informatization of agriculture by making full use of its advantages in the academic field. This cross discipline cooperation enhanced the innovative ability of agricultural research. According to the blue print, the city's multi-disciplinary R&D platform of digital agriculture will increasingly expand in the near future.
Twenty-Four million Chinese small and medium enterprises are getting an additional push to go online from the China Internet Network Information Center with a project aimed at bridging the digital divide among different regions in the mainland and stimulate growth in online businesses. The CNNIC launched a program called "Project Growth" at the end of June which offers a suite of options including domain registration support, Website building assistance, and tips on online marketing for SMEs. There are over 24 million companies in China, but only about 400,000 have their own Websites, according to statistics provided by the CNNIC. More than half of the Websites attract only less than 50 pageviews a day.
Shanghai plans a new Website and a phone hotline late this year to help drivers avoid congestion during rush hour, municipal officials said yesterday. The Chinese language service will be frequently updated depending on traffic situations, project officials said. "The service system will provide drivers with quick and accurate traffic information," said Wang Zijin, an official of the government-backed Shanghai Electrical Apparatus Research Institute - which develops the system. She said users of the service will be able to get timely and free updated traffic information and advice before driving on street. The timely traffic information will be collected by traffic police, automatic cameras and road-embedded sensors. And all the information will be handled and delivered to the service operators. Preparation of the Website and hotline was begun in 2004. Wang said the research institute is planning to add the municipality's network of cycling lanes to the system so that cyclists can also check the route beforehand. Some transport experts are urging the government to encourage public transport and cycling. Zhao Guotong, a local transport expert, said, "Encouraging locals to ride a bike, bus or Metro is the most effective way to alleviate traffic congestions." Currently, the metropolis has more than 2 million vehicles, with 10,000 vehicles added each month. In addition to the traffic guidance service, the municipal government is also planning to provide similar information updates on parking availability by 2008. The parking information system will allow residents to look for and reserve parking spots over the Internet or by phone.
China's population of Internet users, already the world's second-biggest after the U.S., has jumped by nearly 20 percent over the past year to 123 million, with broadband access soaring, it was announced Wednesday. The United States has some 204 million Internet users. The number of Web sites in China rose by more than 110,000 to a total of 788,400, the China Internet Network Information Center said in an annual survey. China encourages Internet use for business and education and has invested heavily in broadband service, but materials considered pornographic or subversive are not allowed. The number of Internet users in China with broadband service jumped by 45 percent over the past year to 77 million, or about two-thirds of the total online population, the Internet agency said. The average Chinese Internet user now spends 16.5 hours per week online, a new record high, the agency said.
China's on-line transactions are expected to reach one trillion yuan this year, a sharp rise from last year's 700 billion yuan, said a report released here Tuesday. China's e-commerce transaction volume has grown by 50-60 percent over the past couple of years and is expected to maintain fast growth for several years to come, said the report released by China Center for Information Industry Development Consulting (CCID Consulting). The number of Chinese netizens has surpassed 110 million and more than 40 million personal computers have access to broadband. "It means China's infrastructure is ready for a boom in e-commerce," said Chi Congbing, analyst with CCID Consulting.
To promote computer literacy and facilitate public access to reference information, Computer and Information Centres/Area have been set up in 18 public libraries. Readers may make use of the networked workstations to conduct research or gain access to the library's electronic resources. Services and facilities provided include: commonly used software such as word processing, spreadsheet, database, presentation, web authoring, image and photo editing, drawing, and publishing applications; access to the Library Catalogue, e-books, and online databases; Internet browsing; secured electronic transactions with e-Cert embedded in smart ID card (available at selected workstations only); document scanning; andCD burning (available in the Hong Kong Central Library only).
Computer and Information Centres/Area are located at:
The Beijing Municipal Commission of Reform and Development, together with the local city commercial lender Bank of Beijing, is promoting an online financing platform for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). "It took me only one week to get a 10 million yuan (US$1.25 million) loan through the platform," said Li Qi, president of Beijing Lu Xing Asphaltum Manufacturing Co. Bank of Beijing has given 5.2 billion yuan (US$650 million) in loans to SMEs since the online platform opened.
GUANGZHOU: Qiu Dongping was about 50 kilometres away from his hometown yesterday, bargaining for affordable computers. Qiu is head of a large village in the mountainous county of Dapu in the east of Guangdong Province, home to 2000 people in six villages. "The local town government has told me that the broadband service will be available in my village by early September at the latest, so my team has decided to buy one or two reasonably priced PCs to make good use of it," he told China Daily. "In the coming few weeks, I will learn how to use a computer and how to produce Internet adverts at an IT learning centre in my county." He said many of the villagers have been looking forward to the broadband service as they have been made aware of its benefits by those studying or working in big cities. "For one thing, although we live in out-of-the-way mountainous areas, we don't have to be cut-off from the Internet world," he said. "Furthermore, we will try to make good use of the Internet for the promotion of our resources including fruit, beautiful scenery, fresh air, porcelain and sweet mountain springs." The new broadband initiative is the latest development in the province's efforts to better connect rural areas. Last week, China Telecom's Guangdong branch signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Guangdong Provincial Information Industry Department to significantly improve telephone and broadband services in rural areas.
Under the MOU, the firm will within three years provide telephone services to each household in villages that have over 20 households, as well as broadband Internet to every large village. The firm will spend 800 million yuan (US$100 million) this year to reach 2,000 villages, an investment that will increase each year. Currently more than 8,800 small villages in the province have no telecoms service, while 7,000 large villages have no broadband. Chen Qinggong, a middle-aged university teacher in Guangzhou, was delighted with the news for personal reasons. "With a telephone service available soon, I'll be able to talk to my elderly parents often," he said. Chen's parents live in a very small village in the mountainous county of Raoping in east Guangdong. According to Chen Junhua, an official with the provincial information industry department, the MOU will step up the pace of "digitalizing Guangdong" in rural areas. The programme was kicked off in 2003 when the provincial government earmarked 35 million yuan (US$4.32 million) each year for the next five years.
IT companies such as Intel and TCL are participating in the programme. Intel, for example, is financing 100 IT learning centres this year and will train 3000 rural staff. These staff are in turn expected to teach 1 million rural residents basic computing skills. One service proving popular is being run by China Mobile. The firm provides 3 million rural subscribers with free text messages. Ma Weiwen, a middle-aged farmer in a rural town called Feilaixia in Qingyuan, said these special text messages have become a normal part of his day. "The messages are very useful for us, they are teaching us how to select good seeds, when and how to prevent pests, how to take better care of fruit trees, how to pick and keep fresh seasonal fruits like lychees and longan," said Ma. Ma said he is expecting a bumper harvest of longan, about 3,500 kilograms, later this month. "I have been learning how to use a computer and how to place ads online at the IT leaning centre in my village." he said. "I'm going to put the information of my longan on the Internet soon."
Continuous scorching weather has kept shoppers at home and thus driven up sales via telephone and Internet merchants, the Youth Post reported yesterday. As of June, the demand for summer commodities such as sun-block cream and whitening face-masks has exceeded the supply, said a public relations spokesman with Dangdang (www.dangdang.com), China's leading B2C website, adding that the sales in July soared by more than 10 percent compared to June. Shanghai water-distribution's Website (www.shwater.com) reported more than 50 new clients every day. "We received endless calls from 6am to 9pm every day, with more than 2,000 barrels of water and 100 plus boxes of beverage sent out a day," said Zhang Yongjie, spokesman for the Website. Male consumers usually play a major role in online purchases, as they focus more on convenience than their female counterparts. Improved payment systems also drove up the sales via phone and Internet merchants, said an industry analyst.
A top Chinese copyright official says that the country is pushing for the use of genuine software in large-sized enterprises this year. National Copyright Administration head, Long Xinmin made the remarks Tuesday in Beijing at a national meeting on copyright issues. Long said that 95 percent of the local governments in China have used genuine software. He also promised to push for large-size enterprises to use genuine software this year, while ensuring that all government offices will use genuine software. The copyright chief pointed out that his department shall also target online piracy and piracy on computers and disk copying enterprises. Long said that the copyright authority will also strengthen its cooperation with international partners in the field, and prepare for the implementation of the World Intellectual Property Organization?‘s WCT and WPPT treaties
The overall Internet penetration rate of Taiwan is estimated at 67.69 percent, with approximately 15.38 million people being Internet users, according to a survey released by the Taiwan Network Information Center (TWNIC) on Friday. An estimated 5.25 million, or 72.11 percent, of households have Internet access, with 4.74 million households, or 65.05 percent, using broadband, the survey found. The survey shows that the household Internet penetration rate was highest in Taipei (86.01 percent) , followed by Kaohsiung (84.61 percent). In terms of the forms of networking, 78.94 percent of the households were using ADSL, 6.22 percent were using cable modem, 4.15 percent were using paid telephone lines, 2.57 percent were using leased line access, 1.12 percent were using free telephone lines and 0.23 percent were using community Internet access.While 84.27 percent of the ADSL household subscribers were customers of Chunghwa Telecom's Hinet service, only 2.92 percent were APOL customers and 2.83 percent were TFN customers.Among the Internet users, 18.37 percent, or 3.57 million, have wireless broadband access and 9.53 percent, or 1.85 million users, access the Internet through mobile broadband services, the said. A TWNIC official said that compared with an 80.64 percent penetration rate for ADSL broadband access, the ratios of wireless and mobile access were significantly lower, indicating that efforts were required to make them available to more users. According to the poll, 60.67 percent of mobile access users choose GPRS service, 12.95 percent use PHS, 11.06 percent use 3G and 9.47 percent use WAP. Of the mobile users, 39.80 percent said they use the service to download ring-tones, 18.27 percent said they use it to surf and 12.91 percent said they use it to send or receive e-mails. A total of 92.9 percent of individual broadband Internet users said they use the Internet most often at home.
It has been a trend for the country's traditional print media to develop digital products like electronic newspapers. Still, experts say, compared with fast developing digital technology, print media still has some advantages. In an interview with the Beijing News, the deputy director of the administration, Shi Feng, said print media enjoys a good reputation. With its very strict management and publishing procedures, credibility is the core advantage of print media, especially as the Web contains a large amount of false information. He adds that most news on the Web is only second hand information that originated in the traditional form. As he anticipates that newspapers may take on different forms in the future, the deputy director thinks it necessary to start an experimental program to test technologies for digital publishing alongside the further development of print media.
Many Hong Kong small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) lack IT application knowledge, which could undermine their office efficiency and even competitiveness. Results of a survey, released by the IT Accountants Association (ITAA) yesterday, shows that despite being computerized, many SMEs were found wanting in IT application. Students of Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) conducted the survey over the phone from October 2005 to July, polling 167 members that had completed Sector Specific Programme for Accountants. The government-sponsored programme is designed for SME accountant firms and accountants working for SMEs to increase their knowledge of IT application. The courses on offer include information security and IT strategy and budgeting. About 83 per cent of the respondents said their companies had broadband Internet service connection, with 72 per cent having a network that connected all computers. But surprisingly up to 80 per cent didn't use integrated software, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Point of Sale (POS), to improve their firms' performance and efficiency. "Many SMEs have poor knowledge about the application of IT to business," said Lincoln Tso, managing director of CPU-I, an educational institution that co-organizes courses with ITAA on information and communication technology. Tso, who teaches the programme too, said many participants had a misconception that computerization meant use of IT knowledge. Head of IVE's Department of Business Administration Josephine Kea said in-depth knowledge of IT could benefit SMEs in many ways such as minimizing work flow, helping liaisoning with suppliers and increasing office efficiency. But the employers didn't understand the importance of proper staff training. Hong Kong Chamber of Small and Medium Business's IT Committee Chairman Leo Lam said the result coincided with a survey conducted by the chamber last year.
Technology will be harnessed to curb illegal acquisition of farmland for property development, the government announced yesterday. By 2010, the new land regulation system equipped with satellite-based remote sensing and Internet communications among other things will cover all cities and 95 per cent of land in rural regions, the Ministry of Land and Resources said. Data collected by the system will include physical dimensions, soil quality rating, and ownership of every piece of land, said Fan Zhiquan, a department director at the ministry. He said the central government would depute specially-trained staff to monitor changes to land use contracts and prevent illegal transactions. "The supervision system is especially important now as the central government tries to control land supply to cool overheated investment in fixed assets," said Fan. The rampant acquisition of land from farmers by local and grass-root governments and loose credit supply have heated China's economy since mid-2003. Despite stricter land-control measures and tighter credit, the nation's economy still grew at 10.9 per cent during the first half of this year. In the long run, Fan said, the new system and closer monitoring of land use can help ensure that the country has enough arable land.
China had 122 million hectares of arable land last year, down from 130 million hectares in 1996. According to the ministry, it needs at least 106.7 million hectares of cultivated land to feed its projected population peak of 1.6 billion in 2030. Experts said the monitoring system can help prevent infringement of farmers' rights. "The system, which is widely used in developed countries, can stop local governments from grabbing land from farmers," said Jiang Zhongyi, a senior researcher at the Agricultural Economic Research Centre affiliated to the Ministry of Agriculture. Currently, some local governments acquire farmland for commercial purposes but fail to report the change of ownership to provincial or central governments, so as to evade tight restrictions the central government has placed on the reclamation of arable land for business use. Premier Wen Jiabao last month expressed concern over provincial and local governments using too much land for real-estate development; the low transfer cost of land for industrial purposes; and rampant illegal occupation of farmland. The ministry responded by releasing regulations stipulating that all land for business, tourism, recreation, commercial property and other profitable purposes be transferred through public bidding and auctions.
From 10 AM on Wednesday, Beijing's 617 digital information terminals have been updated with the latest version of the electronic map, enabling users to print out transfer tips directly from the terminal, according to a report in the Beijing-based Mirror newspaper. After users input two locations, the terminal will return a travel plan, indicating the most convenient way to commute, including bus transfers, bus-subway changes, number of stops and total mileage. This information can be printed freely to provide travel tips as well as being highly convenient for foreign tourists, with its bilingual Chinese and English content. Once the name of a location has been entered, information of all businesses and service facilities in a 500-meter radius will appear on the screen. The digital map is possessed of a touch-screen capability, allowing the user to zoom in and out. Twelve specific channels, providing information such as medical services, tours or even body-building facilities are on hand at the side of the map. According to the operator, the 617 digital information terminals in the whole city have been used 120 million times in the first half of this year, and 300 million times are expected for the whole year. The operator added that 100 such terminals have been installed in hotels and shopping malls, with further plans underway to install them in residential areas.
A sale of Chinese Internet domain names netted more than $160,000 on Friday in what organisers said was the biggest such auction yet in the computer-crazy country. A pair of sites named for ultra-mobile personal computing (umpc.cn and umpc.com.cn), one of the hottest technologies around, fetched an eye-popping 390,000 yuan ($49,000). Generic domain names including art.com.cn and book.com.cn sold well above their reserve prices, while caipiao.com -- "caipiao" means lottery ticket in Chinese -- fetched 37,000 yuan. "I think today was a definite step forward in this market," said Ranger Wang, who organized the auction in a Beijing hotel and was the seller of the "umpc" names. The prices fetched were far from the giddy sums that change hands in the West. Five of the 12 names up for auction failed to attract a bid. But Wang said the sale total of 1.3 million yuan was, as far as he knew, a record for China. "Before this, domain name auctions were very small affairs and were never really successful," Wang said after the auction. "I haven't had a chance to really do the maths, but I think today's result was quite satisfying," he said. Not entirely satisfying. "I take it the technology is a bit outdated now?" the auctioneer quipped as his pleas for a bid for dvd.com.cn fell on deaf ears.
As president and CEO of SAP AG's Northern Asia operations, Klaus Zimmer has overseen the company's Chinese business since 1997. Today, China's economy is booming. State-owned companies have tossed aside the shackles of a planned economy and are looking overseas for new markets and opportunities, a transformation that Zimmer has witnessed firsthand. In an interview with the IDG News Service at SAP's Beijing office, Zimmer discussed opportunities and challenges presented by China's fast-moving market.
Is the hype about the potential of the Chinese software market justified? Good question. I'm actually not so bullish as people who watch China from the outside. I see more shadows than light. I think that after 2008, when Beijing hosts the Olympics, there will be an adjustment in the economy. There is huge overproduction in many, many sectors. It's going to lead to huge overcapacity in steel, in automotives, in home appliances, and it will have repercussions on the world market. Nevertheless, for the software market, we are on a stable platform. At SAP, we have close to 1,300 customers and 2,300 installations. That's quite substantial. The majority, of course, are smaller companies, but more than 400 are big companies.
Are Chinese companies starting to see IT as a potential competitive advantage? It's a homegrown system here. [Chinese companies] are well aware that IT can help, but they do not rely on IT for a competitive edge. They are mainly focused on labor-intensive manufacturing. They are sitting here, and they do not see efficiency gains from the ERP system helping the bottom line. Once they go outside China and go to the U.S. or European markets, they change their thinking. For example, we had Lenovo running SAP for six years before they acquired IBM's PC division. When they became an international company, they gave us a contract that was 10 times bigger within a year or so of the acquisition. International exposure clearly tells Chinese companies that they have to change; otherwise, they cannot compete in the world market. One of the biggest growth engines for our revenue is the internationalization of the Chinese companies.
What is the status of the CIO position in Chinese companies?Ten years ago, there was no CIO. The classic Chinese company had a general manager, a party secretary -- who was the most powerful guy -- and a chief engineer. These three guys managed the company. Today, you have the CIO, the CFO, a guy who is doing the investor relations and so on. It's becoming more common, especially in the banking business, where the CIO is quite powerful.
Can Chinese software companies become international competitors to global vendors like SAP? I don't think so. They are not growing beyond their language barriers. They are not a global competitive force on the world market. They possibly have a role to play in Chinese communities worldwide, but not beyond this.
What holds them back? None of them speak English. It's a big challenge for Chinese companies to become international. The country was delinked from the world market for 40 or 50 years. Today, when somebody is using Chinese ERP software like [that from Beijing-based Ufida Software Co.], you don't have a multi?national version, and you don't have multinational support. To build that is extremely difficult. An international Chinese company cannot rely on domestic players. That's very clear today, and it will be true for quite some years to come.
Is it easy to recruit highly skilled programmers and engineers straight out of universities in China? We generally don't get the quality of people we need. The education system is not providing them. What we have to do is train them, and that's an issue. I don't think you can come here, parachute in, and build a viable management system that can carry a huge organization out of nothing. It's not possible. You have to build the culture, you have to build the skills, you have to build the expertise. The universities here are not teaching the right stuff. The same problem exists in Europe. In Germany, they also are not teaching the right skills. It's not really close to the necessities of the market.
Almost three quarters of China's computers were attacked by viruses from May 2005 to May 2006, down six percent year-on-year, according to a survey by the Ministry of Public Security. The annual survey, based on 13,824 questionnaires collected nationwide concerning Internet security problems, showed the vulnerability was mainly due to a lack of maintenance and repair of software. Internet surfing and downloading to USB flash disks and portable hard disks were major channels for spreading viruses, the survey showed. More viruses were homegrown, and many intended to profit from illegal activities, the ministry said. Fifty-four percent of the companies sampled had suffered Internet security problems. Of those companies, 84 percent had computer virus problems, 36 percent suffered from port scanning or Internet attacks, and 35 percent received junk mail. Officials with the ministry said they would improve advice to companies and promote the training of Internet security personnel to better secure the information network.
Intel is planning to make inroads in the IT sector in Iraq following the Iraqi government's recent go ahead for new wireless broadband technologies, reported Gulf News. Iraq ranks 16th out of 18 nations in the Mena region in a technology survey carried out by Makar Research and ISPs currently serve 1.6m subscribers, with one in 33 Iraqis owning a computer: the population is around 26m.
Iran announced Tuesday afternoon it will produce six million mobile phone handsets by next March just a few days after it increased handset import tariffs by 56 percent. According to Fars news agency, Alireza Tahmasbi, minister of industries and mines, said at the ceremony to sign memoranda of understanding (MoU) with two companies and a domestic consortium that domestically-produced handsets will hit the market by March. ※Iran Telecoms Factory, Nime-Hadi Emad Company and the Consortium of Soroush Resaneh Institute and Smart Townships Company have signed three memoranda of understanding (with the ministry), each pledging to produce two million handsets by March,※ he added. The official further noted that semi knockdown (SKD) production in the first phase will give way to domestic production of handsets some two months after launching the project. ※Henceforth, smuggling of handsets will also cease,※ he said, adding that only domestically-produced handsets will be made available on the demanding market. He said handset market has turned into a $1-billion-a-year business for importers, stressing that some 50,000 jobs could be created with this amount.
The minister said some major mobile phone importers have threatened to close their offices in Iran and to refuse after-sale services, adding that the country will need one billion dollars worth of new handsets thanks to plans for selling 8-10 million new SIM cards this year. A senior industrial official said this week that the government＊s decision to increase tariffs on imported mobile phone handsets from four to 60 percent will benefit domestic industries and will help attract domestic and foreign investments in the field. Mohsen Shaterzadeh, deputy minister of industries and mines, said the importers, who have objected to the decision, are in fact worried about their own financial interests. On May 28, Article One Commission of the government approved the surprise 60-percent import tariff on mobile phone imports defying calls by handset sellers not to agree to the move which has already disrupted the market. Mobile phone industry is booming in Iran where 11 million text messages are sent each day. There are some 8.5 million mobile phone subscribers in the country.
Deputy Director for technical affairs at the Secretariat of High Council for Informatics here Monday announced that based on UN development plans, the government has established IT and informatics centers in four villages. Behrouz Minaei told ISNA that the scheme, undertaken with a UN grant of $100,000, envisaged supplying one village with IT center, but the Council and government decided to extend the plan to four villages. Each village was equipped with five computers, a printer, a scanner, a digital camera and a server for Internet, he said appreciating the help of local councils and education administrations in establishing the IT centers. He noted that the scheme was first carried out in India to narrow the IT and digital divide between cities and villages. He named Varq village in Qazvin province, Tiss in Chabahar (Sistan-Baluchestan province), Maranak in Damavand (Tehran province) and Mahabad in Isfahan province as four pilot projects for IT centers among Iranian villages. The project, Minaei said, was introduced in 2001-2 and implemented in 2004-5 in the mentioned regions. He added that the IT centers were equipped in each village at a cost of 80 million rials.
Iran E-Commerce Center has launched online car deals, said the managing director of Information Technology Promotion Center (Magfa) here on Tuesday. Mohammad Reza Haeri-Yazdi told reporters that the initiative is meant to improve interactions among car producers, dealers and consumers. He further noted that the producers and even importers of cars can also make deals online, stressing that the Internet site will include all e-commerce activities. ※Car producers and dealers can sell their products through this site,※ he said, adding that all the necessary facilities to this effect are available on the site. The official further noted that the site provides the necessary means of taking orders, disseminating information and offering services regarding all car industry-related affairs. Haeri-Yazdi also said that the center became operational one year ago, adding that the center is in charge of establishing specialized websites for e-commerce activities. ※The car deals site is the first such website created in Iran,※ he said, adding that representatives of car dealers and exhibitions can operate online. He said the site has also provided facilities for online second-hand car deals. ※Pictures and technical specifications of the second-hand cars will be available online,※ he said. He said after-sales services will also be rendered with the help of this website.
Commerce Minister Massoud Mirkazemi said here on Tuesday that if the Ministry of Industries and Mines fails get domestic companies to manufacture the required eight million mobile phone handsets by next March, the people will have to purchase handsets at higher prices due to the recent hike in import tariffs. According to ILNA, the minister told reporters on the sidelines of the inaugural ceremony of the 12th International Elecomp Exhibition that if domestic industries cannot produce handsets, the tariffs will have to revert to previous levels. ※Mobile phone handset tariffs went up (by 56 percent to reach 60 percent) in a bid to protect domestic industries,※ he said. He said e-commerce development would require certain infrastructures, including high-speed data transfer systems and greater networking facilities. The minister added that network security is the key to development of online trade, adding that virtual interactions need to be created among various organizations. ※IT sector can reduce many social problems,※ he said, adding that the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is trying to create the required infrastructure. He further noted that the government has braced for privatizing the ICT sector and preliminary steps will be taken this year. ※The country will be able to manufacture IT products within the next three years,※ he said, adding that the ministry is planning to prepare the ground for greater foreign investments. ※Our Export Guarantee Fund can protect foreign investments,※ he said.
Iran Telecommunications Manufacturing Company (ITMC) said Wednesday that a consortium of domestic companies will be formed as part of a ground-breaking plan for domestic production of mobile phones. Mohammad Ebrahim Mottale＊, ITMC managing director, told ILNA that Soroush Resaneh and Nimeh Hadi Emad--the two Iranian companies which have signed an agreement with the Ministry of Industries and Mines on production of mobile phones--will be merged. The official further noted that the consortium will establish a mobile phone manufacturing line by next March, adding that it is expected to produce six million sets a year. He said that talks are still underway with three foreign telecoms companies, including Bell of Hong Kong, Telme of Austria and Malaysia＊s Mmobile, from whom one will be chosen for partnership with the Iranian consortium. ※We are also in talks with Nokia on the same project,※ he said. Mottale＊ said earlier that negotiations on mobile phone production with Mmobile, Telme and Bell are in the final stages.
※We have now entered the technical phase of the talks,※ he said. He added that the Malaysian company has its own brand name, the Austrian firm is involved in design and production while the other company has set up handset assembly lines in several countries, including Hong Kong and China. Some experts and even senior government officials are concerned about the chaotic condition in the mobile phone market, particularly after prices went up drastically following a 56-percent rise in the four-percent import tariffs. Last month, Commerce Minister Massoud Mirkazemi said if the Ministry of Industries and Mines fails to get domestic companies to manufacture the required eight million mobile phone handsets by next March, the people will have to pay even more for handsets. The minister told reporters that if domestic industries cannot produce handsets, tariffs will have to revert to previous levels. Mobile phone handset tariffs were increased by 56 percent to reach 60 percent earlier this year.
Shoji Miyamoto, Vice Chairman, Asia IC Card Forum, discusses the prospects for further smart card adoption in Japan. Interview: Gerald Wang. In January 2006, the IT strategic headquarter formed in the cabinet issued the next e-Japan strategy. This strategy sets a target to reduce social costs through structural reform. Enforcing ICT is seen as leverage to solve the foreseen social dilemma. ※The focus however, lies in the steady establishment and promotion of both Healthcare and e-Government ICT infrastructures,§ says Shoji Miyamoto, ※There is a move towards a matured and intelligent society. This includes the realization for the need of a simple and transparent institution, a replacement of legacy by optimised open systems, unification and abolition of computer infrastructures in the central government. ※More than 96 per cent of applications and declarations become online by the end of March, 2006. The Japanese e-Government is moving from its stage of construction to steady operations. However, review processes are currently being conducted to strengthen the e-Government initiatives. ※Privacy issues especially, are of great concern with Japanese citizens. The issue of trust between the government and its people bears paramount importance for any government initiative,§ Miyamoto continues, ※Digital signatures via smart cards are not yet well popularised in Japan, because this requires the eID deployment. Some applications still require additional yet necessary paper documents such as receipts.§
The promotion of IT in Healthcare is increasingly becoming an inevitable concern with Japanese society. The reality of Japan rapidly reaching a so called aging society calls for the need of social insurance and security. Medical costs in Japan is about 32 trillion yen (US$300 billion) and it increases 1 trillion yen every year. Miyamoto adds, ※Hopefully, the promotion of more effective ICT infrastructures can reduce unnecessarily costs. The main goal is to become 100 per cent paperless by 2010 using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) technologies.§ ※The basic functions of Japanese eID cards are ID and digital signature. There is a need to increase popularisation of the Japanese Resident Registration Cards (RRC), and this can be done by providing additional services within one card; such as, healthcare service, automatic certificate insurance service, and more,§ says Miyamoto. ※Pick up rates for RRC are much less than expected, about 1 million, since August 2003, mainly because of the shortage of convenience, however, in the upcoming second version of RRC, we are planning for one unified social security card for national pension, health insurance, labour insurance, and many more other services. In the card will be embedded common features such as printed facial photos and digital signatures.§ The next e-Japan strategy is to integrate the IC card, digital signature and e-pass LDS into one single smart card. The ideal goal however, is to be able to use such a card at a broader regional area. This is seen through its bilateral treaties with countries like South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and other Asian states.
The world's first major decrease is DSL use has now occurred in Japan, according to a survey of the Ministry of Communications. Have no fear for the future of the 47 million Japanese broadband users, however; the drop was caused by a shift of millions of users from DSL to fiber. MIC reports "the usage ratio of fiber-optic circuits grew from 6.1 percent to 14.8 percent, that of DSL decreased from for the first time from 39.2 percent to 34.2 percent. The same trend was seen in companies and offices." Korea has also shown minor drops, plateauing around 70 percent of households. Japan's broadband coverage is about to pass 50 percent of homes, Yasamasa Goda of Merrill calculates. Goda notes that broadband expansion slowed significantly when penetration passed thirty percent, similar to the slowdown when mobile phones passed thirty. The mobile phone expansion slowed again (but continued substantial) at around 50 percent, which may be replicated by broadband. That could change, however, if the DSL providers who are losing share to fiber respond by dropping prices. The direct cost of offering DSL service (in a high volume location with the phone line already in place) is $5 to $8 per month, so that Japan's $20 to $35 DSL + VoIP prices could come down if necessary. Companies like Softbank/Yahoo BB are finally making a profit, so reluctant to move prices, but may have no choice. Goda notes "ADSL operators may start full-scale efforts to prevent defection." That will bring DSL prices down even more.
Watch the newest theatrical releases on your home theater in the comfort of your living room. Keep an eye on your home anytime, from anywhere, through cameras installed in every corner. A sudden emergency? Send quick text messages to your family＊s mobile phones with a remote control. A commercial home network service, which goes into effect on June 11, will let you do all of these things. KT Corp. announced on June 10 that it will begin providing HomeN (www.homen.co.kr), the world＊s first high speed internet-based home network service, in 17 areas around Seoul and Gyeonggi-do, including Yongsan, Gwanak, Suseo, and Goyang. In September, the service will be expanded to 39 areas around the country. SK Telecom Consortium is currently conducting test runs for the groundbreaking home network service in Seoul and Busan. Just How Convenient Will It Be? 〞 With HomeN, visiting the local video store becomes a thing of the past. Your television set is connected to the high speed internet and lets you enjoy the newest movies, TV shows, and animated programs when you want, with the clarity and sound quality of a DVD. KT plans to update the video content provided through HomeN at the rate of 300 programs a week. The ※Home Viewer§ function allows you to watch over your home through the Internet, with the help of security cameras installed in various spots around the house or apartment.
This means that you could keep an eye on your young child from work, or make sure your home hasn＊t been burgled while on vacation. The television may also be used to search for regional information, like the local news or the store directory for a nearby shopping center. Both the remote control and wireless keyboard let you send text messages to mobile phones. If you have a preset message stored, pressing the emergency button on the remote control will automatically send the message to each member of your family. How Does It Work? 〞 HomeN combines communication and broadcasting, by linking the high speed Internet to your home TV.You can use HomeN if you＊re signed up for KT＊s high speed Internet. The price of the service includes the installation fee and the cost for the specialized equipment. The installation fee is 24,000 won for new subscribers. For existing KT customers, the price varies from 11,000 won (wireless home LAN users) to 16,000 won. The key piece of equipment, Home Gateway, connects your TV to the high speed internet, and costs 320,000 to 420,000 won depending on the functions included. If you want to use the on-demand video and ※Home Viewer§ functions, you need to pay an additional monthly fee of 16,000 and 4,000 won respectively. The head of KT＊s marketing and planning department, Choi Mun-kee, said, ※Starting next year, home appliances management, as well as the remote control and inspection of gas, electricity, and water, will also is available to subscribers nationwide.§
Fibre optic internet connections are now gaining at a greater rate than ADSL in Japan, according to recent research.More than 5.35 million Japanese homes and businesses were using fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) as their main internet connection in March, Tokyo-based Multi Media Research Institute (MMRI) reported. Japan's fibre subscribers will exceed 19 million by 2008, the firm predicted. "The number of FTTH subscribers doubled compared to the previous year," the research firm said. "In contrast, [growth in] ADSL subscriptions, which had been the major factor of market expansion, declined considerably." ADSL showed only a slight increase, from total subscriptions of 13.7 million in fiscal 2004 to 14.45 million in 2005. Consultants Dittberner Associates announced recently that Japan added 2.5 million FTTH subscribers in 2005, making up 80 per cent of the entire FTTH market. FTTH penetration in Japan is now growing at a rate of three million subscribers per year. The government wants to continue at this pace, eventually reaching 30 million homes. Currently, half of Japanese households have some form of fibre internet connection available. "Video, IPTV and other high bandwidth applications are driving demand for Passive Optical Network and Ethernet FTTH equipment all over the world," said Jeff Heynen, an analyst with US-based communications research specialist Infonetics Research. "Passive Optical Network is very strong in the Asia Pacific region, particularly Ethernet Passive Optical Network, which is huge in Japan and will roll out in China soon as well."
The number of people operating blogs on the Internet totaled 8.68 million in Japan at the end of March, with their word-of-mouth information becoming increasingly influential in defining consumer trends, the government said Tuesday. The 2006 white paper on telecommunications was presented to the Cabinet by Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Heizo Takenaka. A blog, short for weblog, is a personal website updated frequently with links, commentary and anything else users like. It can be readily built and is often run by individuals. The report noted that blogs, which allow consumers to actively publish information, and social networking services, membership-based web-communities for building social networks, are becoming increasingly popular. As of the end of March, the number of people operating blogs increased 2.6-fold from 3.35 million a year earlier, and that of SNS users surged 6.5-fold to 7.16 million. The report said consumers typically use the Internet to gather information on products, adding that 60 percent or more people study about products from blogs and other Internet sources before they purchase them, in addition to using Internet shopping sites.
The number of cyber crimes in Japan leapt by nearly 12% in the first half from the same period last year, with fraud connected to Internet auctions leading the way, a police report, quoted by Reuters, said. The Reuters report, quoting a statement from Japan's National Police Agency, said 1,802 cyber crimes were uncovered in the first half of the year; the highest level for a six-month period since record keeping began in 2000. Fraud through abuse of computer networks raised most sharply at 733 cases, up 9.1%, accounting for 40% of the total, the Reuters report said. The majority of these were related to Internet auctions, a police spokeswoman said. Cases of child prostitution through dating Web sites rose 18.2% to 169, while trademark offenses such as submitting fake brand merchandise to Internet auctions more than doubled to 106 cases, the report said. The Reuters report further said police data had previously shown that Internet-related crimes including phishing and illegal access to computer networks had more than doubled in the past five years
The number of Internet-related crimes in Japan in the first six months of this year hit a record high, according to data issued Thursday by the National Police Agency. The NPA said there were 1,802 cases of such crimes in the first half of 2006, which is up 12 percent on the same period last year. The largest number of cases involved fraud related to computer networks. Most of these cases, which accounted for about 40 percent of all Internet-related crimes, were linked to Internet auction sites, the NPA said. Internet auctions are very popular in Japan, with about three out of every five Internet users having participated at in an auction either as buyers, sellers, or both, according to the results of a recent survey by MyVoice Communications Inc. About half of those who had not participated in Internet auctions cited the possibility of fraud as a concern. Crimes involving illegal access to computer networks jumped 34 percent to 265 cases in the six-month period. These included cases where people accessed accounts on online gaming services to obtain electronic items or weapons that had been won during the game, access to Internet banking accounts and phishing attacks, where people are tricked into revealing their user names and passwords. Cases of child prostitution involving under-18s met through Internet dating sites totalled 169 cases in the six month period, a jump of 18 percent on the year-ago, while child pornography crimes totalled 97, up 43 percent.
A database detailing patients' battles against disease has been made available on the Internet. The Web site, "Tobyoki Raiburari" has been compiled by Prof. Akihiko Takano of the National Institute of Informatics and a citizens group. The database is useful for people suffering from afflictions similar to those suffered by the writers to learn how those people coped with the disease and their treatment. When browsing in bookstores, it is difficult to tell whether a title is a patient's journal or just another book about the disease. In addition, a project led by Yasushi Ishii to provide health information at disease journal corners in libraries proved unsuccessful, leading to his support for the development of this online library. Visitors to the site and you will see several boxes displayed, containing headings such as cancer, mental disorder, neurology, heart and blood. Click on any of these boxes and a list of related ailments, such as Alzheimer's disease, leukemia or AIDS, will be displayed. More than 500 books are held in the library. Click on the spine of a title to see the contents and foreword, as well as a summary and explanation. Here you can see what problems the writer had and why they chose to contribute to the collection. Libraries which have copies of the selected book are also shown. "The number of titles available will be quickly expanded, and so I would like patients to use this library as a means to gain access to medical information." He continued, "I would also like to include journals of people's experience of their nursing care." Ishii said. The Japanese-only Web site address is http://toubyoki.info/
The Internet is now a promotional tool that is as important as political street campaigning, or even more so, experts say. From party Web sites to personal blogs and discussion boards, cyber political campaigning has become extensive 求 especially involving those who know how to move online sentiment. Yesterday the Web sites for Seoul mayoral candidates Kang Kum-sill and Oh Se-hoon were on fire with supporters posting words of encouragement. "Every hour, thousands of supportive messages are written on the Web board at Ms. Kang's Web site," said spokesman Oh Young-sik. The Web site was shut down early yesterday when the server crashed due to the high number of users. Ms. Kang even logged on to her site through wireless Internet on the road to write replies for some of the messages. Oh Se-hoon's Web site on Cyworld was also filled with positive messages from fans, pulsing with Robbie Williams' cover of the song "We Will Rock You" as background music. Cyworld is one of the most popular community portals in Korea.
Personal Web sites have almost become a must for political candidates. Most candidates not only have their own sections in their party's Web site, but also separate personal Web sites, blogs, and community sites. Candidate Chin Dae-je, the former Information Minister who is running for Gyeonggi province governor, has a Cyworld "mini hompy," a blog on Naver, as well as another community site and links to supporters' sites and his party. His Cyworld site is "personal" and includes photos from the past and those taken with his family. His blog focuses more on his campaigning activities. In Cheolwon County, Gangwon province, competing candidates carried their pledges online through a series of promotional video clips posted on the county's Web site. "It's more fun and useful to see the candidates' actual pledges through Internet videos instead of listening to noisy rackets made by trucks that have speakers attached," said Kim Kyung-mook, a 54-year-old local resident.
While the Internet is used as a medium to reach the public, it can be abused. Recently, someone posted a flash animation that claimed that the Grand National Party was behind the assault of its own party leader, Park Geun-hye, who was slashed in the face during a street campaign two weeks ago. The clip became so widely circulated that the National Election Commission declared that circulating unconfirmed information to impact the election was unlawful. The commission asked police yesterday to investigate and ordered Internet portal site operators to delete the image files. Han Sang-wok, a candidate for district office head in Bupyeong, Incheon, noted Internet flaws. Sites for Seoul mayor candidates, for example, are popular. Others are not. "It's true that use of the Internet has increased, but still, there is a need for posters and pamphlets," he said.
Korea's online content industry is forecast to expand to nearly 13 trillion won ($1.37 billion) by 2010, a government report showed yesterday. The domestic market for online content is expected to reach 12.78 trillion won within four years, more than double the 6.38 trillion won posted last year, according to a report from the Ministry of Information and Communications. Exports of online content, which stood at $500 million last year, are expected to reach $1.3 billion by 2010, with the number of initial public offerings expanding from the current 33 to 70, it said. However, the expected annual growth rate of the industry, assessed at around 15 percent, is expected to be lower than that of other nations, as the yearly expansion in the global market is likely to hit 20 percent by 2010. In an effort to sharpen the competitive edge of the country's online content providers, the ministry plans to focus on the fields of production, retail and consumption, as well as prepare for new services, such as Internet Protocol Television.
The Manilla-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced its $20 million pact with the Republic of Korea that will help the Bank to assist its member countries to achieve MDGs with strategic uses of ICTs. The fund consists of two components - the e-Asia and the Knowledge Partnership Fund - that will be operated and administered by ADB. The e-Asia program will seek to support projects aiming towards bridging the digital divide through studies and research, education and training, information dissemination and networking through workshops and publications, and innovative approaches to promoting ICT. The Knowledge Partnership program aims at building capacities in ADB member countries through workshops, research, training and other innovative programmes.
South Korea retained its top status in the development of information technology (IT) for a second consecutive year in 2006, government officials said Wednesday. Citing a report released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Ministry of Information and Communication said South Korea ranked first among 180 countries on its digital opportunity index (DOI), a comprehensive measure of a nation's level of IT development.
Korea's e-commerce sales increased slightly in May, due mainly to seasonal factors, a government report showed yesterday. E-commerce transactions 求 sales and purchases made over the Internet 求 amounted to 1.1 trillion won ($1.2 billion) in May, up 6.2 percent from April, according to the National Statistical Office. Compared to the same month last year, the May sales increased 29.4 percent, the report showed. Sales of electronic goods increased sharply ahead of the summer season, the office said. Three more new cyber-shopping malls opened in April than in did in March, bringing the total to 4,454, according to the report. Online sales have been rising since last year, the latest sign that the Korean economy, Asia's fourth largest, is poised to end its two-year slump.
The Information Ministry said yesterday that it has activated an improved software program that searches the Web, including defunct sites, for resident registration numbers that were exposed on the Internet without the resident's knowledge. The Information Ministry was already running a program that scoured Web sites for resident registration numbers, and Web site operators that held such information were ordered to delete it. But the ministry overlooked Google's "cache" feature, where the search engine stored information on Web sites. The ministry said that it developed a software program that searches resident registration numbers on search engine databases as well as current Web sites. A scan conducted from July 24-30 using this program on the Google database showed that about 95,000 individuals' entire resident registration numbers were posted online. About 30 percent of the numbers were from people in their 20s, with 19 percent in their 30s and 18 percent in their 40s. The ministry said it would ask Google and any organizations operating Web sites containing resident registration numbers to delete the information.
A Google agent in Korea said that U.S. headquarters could not comment because of the time difference with Korea, but that in the case of regular Web sites, the company has been cooperating fully with the ministry. The ministry said that cases of resident registration numbers being exposed on public and private Web sites have increased with the rise of Internet usage. It added that posting resident registration numbers online is a particularly egregious invasion of privacy because they include an individual's gender, date of birth and birthplace 求 information that can be used to apply for credit cards, buy online goods and gain access to other personal information.
With wireless broadband 求 or WiBro, a next generation mobile telecommunication technology 求 entering the U.S. market, Korea has shown that it is a growing force to be reckoned with in the global information technology industry. In the 1980s, Korea found success by copying foreign telecommunications technology; by the 1990s, Korea was commercializing foreign-developed technology. Today, however, Korea has reached a point where it is exporting telecommunication technology that was developed here on the peninsula. The story of Korea's advances in telecommunications began in the 1970s, when soaring use of telephones rendered Korea's original telephone system 求 an operator personally linking each call 求 increasingly unworkable. In those days, anyone applying for a new phone line had to wait in line until someone canceled their subscription. To solve this problem, the government decided in 1976 to develop Korea's own time division exchange, or TDX, a form of electronic operator. With 1,060 researchers working on the project, Korea became the 10th country in the world to develop its own TDX. In 1989 Korea developed the TDX-10, a more sophisticated digital operator system, and started to export the technology. While only half of the parts used in the TDX were locally produced, all stages of the TDX-10, from design to software, were devised and produced in Korea.
The foundation of Korea's subsequent success in mobile phones was laid in 1993, when Korea became the first country in the world to commercialize the code division multiple access technology, or CDMA, developed by U.S.-based tech firm Qualcomm. Unlike the time division multiple access, or TDMA, system used in Europe, which assigned a specific frequency for each user, CDMA allowed multiple subscribers to a single frequency. Expectations were high that Korean firms would turn huge profits from CDMA, as countries such as China, India and Brazil decided to adopt the system. But with Qualcomm demanding high royalty payments on CDMA, its price competitiveness soon eroded. What's more, Europe looked to nurture its own telecommunications companies by the development of the Global System for Mobile Communication, or GSM. The adoption of this updated version of TDMA meant Korean firms were further handicapped, as they were unable to sell CDMA technology to one of the world's biggest cell phone markets. Korea's WiBro technology, also known as mobile WiMAX, is the result of three decades of continuous research. And as it was developed in Korea, it is potentially far more lucrative than CDMA was. "It is a great leap for Korea that WiBro has been recognized by the world," said Song Yoo-jong, director at the Ministry of Information and Communication.
The Internet center--now the second one--been opened by the Agricultural Bank of Mongolia in Gurvansaikhan soum, Dundgobi Province. The project on opening the center was initiated by the Bank and was carried out by the Incomnet cmpany at the supports by the US Peace Corps and the soum s Governor Office. The project was first time implemented in September 2005 in Battsengel soum, Arkhangai Province. The aim of the project is clear--to offer low-priced Internet services to the locals. "We plan to set up such centers in many places in 2006", the AG Bank IT Department Director D.Enkhbold says.
A new state-owned communication company dealing with only network service will be established in the near future. The decision was made on Wednesday s government meeting. This independent communication network company will be set up relying on the capital assets and circulation assets, which were transferred from the Technical Center of Mongolian Radio and Television to the Information and Technological Communication Development Center, as well as buildings and constructions and communication network equipment that were used by the Mongolian Telecom Company under the leasing contract. The government meeting charged Chairman of State Property Committee Mr. D. Sugar and Head of Information and Technology Authority Mr. Ch.Saikhanbileg to establish this state-owned limited liability company of communication network.
Komatsu machinery maintenance and service centers were simultaneously inaugurated in the two provinces of Turkmenistan, Mary and Balkan. The famous Japanese company is the long-standing supplier of highly productive equipment to Turkmenistan, which is used in construction of virtually all significant facilities in the republic. As the Ashgabat correspondent of Turkmenistan.ru reports, the maintenance center in Vekilbazar district of Mary province and service center in the town of Balkanabat were constructed by Turkish company Guneikaya, a service dealer of the Japanese company in Turkmenistan, Itochu Corporation, a trade dealer of Komatsu, and the producer of the world-famous machinery itself. The new maintenance centers are staffed with all necessary equipment for repair of Japanese earth diggers and road construction machines. The Balkan province service center is also capable of repairing Komatsu's special equipment employed in the oil and gas sector of Turkmenistan. From now on, there will be no need to send the machinery with complicated defects from Mary and Balkan provinces to the head office in Ashgabat for major repair.
It will make it possible to operate expensive highly productive machines much more efficiently. Maintenance centers are also planned in Lebap and Dashoguz provinces in near future. At present, over 800 Komatsu machines are operated in Turkmenistan. The next delivery of machinery is to take place coming September under the contracts signed last year. These are over 100 machines for divisions of the oil and gas complex and water management sector. Almost 120 units of road construction and earth digging equipment will arrive next year. To this effect a US $ 30 mln contract was signed with Komatsu this summer during a visit by the Japanese business delegation to Ashgabat. All deliveries are carried out within the framework of the agreement signed in 2002. According to this agreement, Turkmenistan is to purchase up to 200 Japanese machines annually during the period of 10 years.
Myanmar is developing a new satellite town related to information and communication technology (ICT) in Pyin Oo Lwin, northern Mandalay division, and construction of a teleport and incubation in the satellite town as the first phase is underway, an official newspaper reported Tuesday. The new satellite town, named Yadanabon Myothit, covers an area of 4,050 hectares and is also located near the second largest city of Mandalay, said the New Light of Myanmar. Myanmar's ICT sector has been making progress since 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 set up in the two following years to provide ICT services in the country. The teleport in the Yadanabon Myothit satellite town, which is an internet service provider, is similar to the Myanmar Teleport ( formerly known as the Bagan Cybertech) in Yangon, experts said. Myanmar has also been launching an ICT development master plan under the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI), aimed at narrowing the development gap among the regional members. Detailed programs to link international networks are also being carried out in accordance with the master plan drafted by the Myanmar Computer Federation (MCF). Besides, work is well underway to systematically implement the tasks under e-ASEAN Framework Agreement (AFA) which calls for development of information infrastructure, emergence of e-commerce and e-government systems, lifting of restriction on ICT commodities, services and investment and increasing of them, and building of ICT capacity to create an e-society after reducing the digital divide among regional members. Due to the move, Myanmar has been on a par with other regional members in terms of work progress, having launched e-visa, e- passport, e-government portal and e-procurement and contributing much to the effective management of government bodies. Being a signatory to the e-AFA initiated at 2000 Singapore summit, Myanmar has formed the e-National task Force to support the IT development. Moreover, the country has also signed a series of memorandums of understanding since 2003 with companies from Malaysia, Thailand and an ASEAN organization on ICT development.
Green Packet Bhd will invest RM70mil in wireless broadband infrastructure in the Klang Valley and officially launch its high-speed Internet service early next year. ※We will start work on the infrastructure this month,§ group managing director and chief executive officer Puan Chan Cheong told reporters after a shareholders' meeting in Bukit Jalil yesterday. He declined to speculate on the potential contribution from the new business, but said that such venture would help the company expand its recurring income. At the EGM, shareholders approved the company＊s proposed acquisition of controlling stakes in Nextel group for a total of RM24.75mil. Nextel is the second largest discounted call provider in the country behind REDtone International Bhd. Puan said the acquisition would immediately provide Green Packet a strong foothold in the Voice-over-Internet-Protocol market, and give it a ready market of some 20,000 corporate customers. ※The acquisition would accelerate our business development plan in this high growth industry,§ he said. Under its wireless broadband business strategy, Green Packet plans to deploy ※hundreds§ of access points in the Klang Valley beginning this month. Puan said that initially, the company would use unlicensed spectra to offer customers an enhanced version of the widely used Wi-Fi technology.
※The access points can be upgraded to WiMax technology with minimum investment,§ he said. The enhanced version of Wi-Fi would offer customers within the access point＊s 2km range to surf the Internet on mobile devices. Current Wi-Fi offerings, such as TM Net Sdn Bhd＊s HotSpot or the free high-speed wireless Internet service at Starbucks restaurants, have limited range of just a few metres. Puan said Green Packet was also planning to roll out similar high-speed wireless broadband services in Bahrain, and hoped to start the venture in October. Meanwhile, Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said yesterday that the Government would award the WiMax spectrum licence ※as early as October or November§. The Government had earlier delayed the licence award pending a review. On July 18, Green Packet announced plans to acquire a 55% stake in MIB Comm Sdn Bhd for RM6mil on condition that the target company was able to secure a WiMax spectrum with nationwide coverage. MIB is one of 17 companies that had submitted bids to Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission for a WiMax spectrum licence.
Sarawak is working towards elevating the Sama Jaya Free Industrial Zone here to cybercity status, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said on Tuesday. He said with the status, the zone, which caters for high-tech industries, would form part of the web of the national Multimedia Super Corridor under the cybercity national rollout. ※We are hopeful of attracting more hi-tech industries, including those in the supporting industries, such as research and development, marketing, distribution, quality control, testing, labelling and packaging activities,§ he added when replying to points raised by members at the state assembly. Dr Chan, also state Industrial Development Minister, said that during a recent investment mission to Japan, Sarawak tried to get vendors of Japanese firms which had plants in Sama Jaya, to also relocate their operations here. He said the completion of the Bakun hydroelectric dam project, which could generate up to 2,400MW, would form an attractive base to create a new cluster of high-energy-intensive industries in Bintulu. Dr Chan said that 50 manufacturing projects, with proposed investments totalling RM723mil, were approved in the state during the first six months of this year. Twelve of the projects are in the food and agro-based industries, 11 in wood-based industries, and six each in chemical and chemical products, and non-metallic mineral industries. Last year, 128 manufacturing projects with proposed total investments of some RM1.5bil was approved. Dr Chan said that under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the ministry would plan for industrial estates outside the major towns.
The computerized blotter system project of the Cebu City Police Office is already on its final stages of implementation and is expected to be completed before the ASEAN Summit this December. According to Loida Antonio, Supervisor, Developers＊ Group of the Management Information and Communication System (MICS), the city government has already purchased a server and 18 units of computers which will be installed in all police stations. The city allotted a total of P2.3 million for software, hardware and connection phases of the project. Antonio said the eBlotter project stemmed from a letter request of the Cebu City Police Office addressed to Councilor Augusto Pe, Jr., chairman of the Committee on Dangerous Drugs, for the acquisition of four units of computers to be used in the preparation of periodic reports. In the request, the CCPO Acting Chief Melvin Gayotin admitted that police precincts are encountering delays in the submission of precinct daily journal and other police station certifications due to unavailability of computers. Such request was forwarded to the MICS through GIS Consultant Rene Sanapo for study and recommendation.
In answer, a team was organized to conduct a systems study and analysis and was tasked to design the information system that will provide for the computerization of police blotters. Under this project, the information system will run in a wide area network connecting a total of 18 computers, 11 of which will be installed in 11 police stations, four at the CCPO (Homicide, CIIB, Theft and Robbery and Operations Section) one at the Traffic Patrol Group, one at the Mobile Patrol Group, and one at the Office of Councilor Procopio Fernandez. All computers will be connected to a central server which will be located at the CCPO. The same system will also be connected to a computer at the Office of Councilor Pe and the Office of the Mayor. Globelines will provide 24/7 communication for the wide area network using Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network (IP-VPN). With this, all police precincts blotter records will be visible at the network server anytime of the day. The individual reports will be consolidated into a single report which can be accessed by the CCPO Chief for information and use. The blotters will be stored in a database and will interface with the GIS (digitized maps) of the city to graphically view the reported crime incidents using the GIS of which the CCPO can use for its crime analysis and strategic planning.
The same database will also serve as reference database in the issuance of certifications and the preparation of documents in the filing of complaints by the police to the City Prosecutor＊s Office. Desk Officers in all police stations will undergo training on how to use the PNP eBlotter System. Selected PNP personnel assigned at the Operations Section will also undergo training on Geographic Information System. Analou Pepito, a member of the Mayor＊s Management Team serves as the project leader of the eBlotter project. ※This will help the police to speed up their operations especially in the issuance of certifications. It will also improve police deployment,§ Pepito said. Although there is a similar information system project currently undertaken by the Central Police Office, it would be Cebu City which will break new ground in eBlotter System. Pepito assured that this in-house project of MICS will not run counter to the eBlotter System of the PNP Central office.
AFTER much hemming and hawing, the operators of the Philippines＊ three automated teller machine (ATM) networks finally have interconnected, promising what the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said would be lower transaction costs for the depositing public. On Tuesday Bancnet and Expressnet formally launched their interconnection, completing the link-up among the three major players. In 1997 Expressnet interconnected with Megalink. ※This sharing of network infrastructure is a strategic move that is expected to reduce transaction costs, which in turn would translate to lower service fees for all ATM-related transactions,§ BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said during the launching ceremonies of the Bancnet-Expressnet interconnection at the BSP compound. The network interconnection aims to provide convenience across cardholders of the three networks. It will allow ATM cardholders to access over 6,500 ATMs nationwide. The BSP chief, however, failed to say by how much transaction costs would go down as a result of the interconnection.
Tetangco, said however, the central bank will craft relevant regulations that would ensure that risks inherent in electronic banking are adequately managed and depositors are protected at all times. The BSP has issued a memo advising banks to exercise vigilance in their operations and to educate the public against fraudulent practices involving ATM transactions, he said. Earlier, the BSP required banks to display ATM transaction charges. Aurelio Montinola, president of Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), which is part of the Expressnet, said the convergence of the ATM networks encourages the use of alternative channels. BPI and unit BPI Savings Bank introduced Expressnet in 1990. At end-May, Expressnet had 2,538 ATMs connected, giving it a 39-percent share of the market, with almost 6.58 million cardholders, or 46 percent of the total active cardholders in the country. The Bancnet and Expressnet interconnection provides more than 2,000 additional ATMs for Expressnet and Bancnet cardholders to use. (by Maricel E. Burgonio)
The Cebu City government website www.cebucity.gov.ph bested all entries for Best Website LGU/E-Governance Category in the recently concluded 6th Cebu Web Awards. A total of P15,000 cash prize and a trophy were awarded to the city during the Web Awards Night at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel last June 23. The web design contest sponsored by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry was one of the highlights of the 2006 Cebu Business Month celebration. ※This award was unexpected. We are overwhelmed. This goes to show that hard work and perseverance will make things possible that despite all odds, we succeeded§, Ma. Wilma Entera, Website Project Manager said. Entera, a member of the Mayor＊s Management Team (MMT) said the award is ※a jumpstart to more MMT initiated projects to better improve the services of the city government§. Aside from providing information about the city government, its services, programs and activities, the enhanced inter-active website www.cebucity.gov.ph contains new features like the Content Management System (CMS), On-line Forum, Local and Overseas Jobs On-line, Guest book and GIS Application for Business Locator, among others. The website is Cynthia Tested or has passed the standards set by the National Council for the Welfare of Persons with Disability (NCWPD). The city government website was initially launched in 2002 and runs in a Static Form of website.
The idea to overhaul the entire website came after a case study of Entera and Ric Angelli Chan of the MMT entitled ※Maintenace of News Content in the Website§ last April 2005. The case study primarily aims to improve the content and features of the website. The proponents of the study lobbied before Mayor Tomas Osme?a to put in place their recommendations to improve the website. Apart from procuring a web server, Entera also pushed for the implementation of the CMS, a system used to organize and facilitate collaborative creation of documents and other contents in the website by all city government departments and office. This way, heads of offices and departments can upload updates on service improvement projects directly to the website. Inputs from the City government officials and the members of the MMT were incorporated in the redesigned website template. Last February 23, the new Cebu City government website was launched at the Ayala Center Cebu. Website Developer and Administrator Chester Anthony R. Corciega, also a member of the MMT, said the city website is a Stage-Three Type website which is characterized to have interactive elements such as Forum or Discussion Board, user log-in and password both for internal users and the public. A user can also search for specialized databases and have access to Downloadable forms. With the Business Locator in place, website users can locate business establishments in the city using online GIS Maps and at the same time view their profiles. ※You can expect more improvements in the website. We will do our best to make the website a Transactional Web by 2007 wherein the public can transact business with the city government online§, Corciega said.
BAGUIO CITY 每 This summer capital of the Philippines is ready to attract more outsourcing firms with the firing up of a digital fiber optic link, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) officials said. Representing an investment of over 30 million dollars, the digital fiber optic network (DFON) now connects the city to a 10 gigabit per second data pipe, according to George Lim, senior vice president and network services group head of PLDT, in a briefing. The Northern Luzon digital fiber optic loop traverses several key areas in the area, including the Ilocos region, Aparri, Cagayan, Cabanatuan, La Union, among others. "We've made a gamble to lay down DFON in northern Luzon," said Ernesto Alberto, senior vice president and group head of the corporate business group of PLDT. Alberto said a big US outsourcing firm and PLDT itself are now considering locating their call center operations in Baguio City. He declined to identify the US firm. Currently, call center firm ClientLogic and semiconductor firm Texas Instruments are among the beneficiaries of this faster data pipe to the city. Alberto said more business process outsourcing companies are now looking at Baguio City as a potential destination for offshore operations. "Baguio is now posed to become a business center with the DFON expansion in Baguio," the executive said. In a separate interview, Dan Reyes, ClientLogic country manager, said the biggest call center operation in the city expects to grow its headcount and revenues following the firing up of the DFON. ClientLogic expects to increase headcount to more than 1,000 people this year because of better data infrastructure in the city. Lim added that Baguio City is now emerging as the next "suitable place for a cyber city." The presence of digital fiber optic network will also boost tourism in the city, added Alberto.
Filipinos ticked off an average of 250 million text messages a day in 2005, 50 million more than the messages they sent the previous year. The National Telecommunications Commission attributed the surge in messages sent through a cellular phone＊s short messaging system (SMS) to the promotional gimmicks offered by mobile-phone service providers. Ronald O. Solis, the NTC chief, told The Manila Times on Wednesday that the volume of text messages rose although there has been no considerable increase in cell-phone subscribers last year. ※We expect this trend to continue, as the carriers continue to compete by providing low and affordable service offerings,§ Solis said. Smart Communications Inc., Globe Telecommunications Inc., Sun Cellular and Pilipino Telephone Corp. had introduced unlimited text and lower tariff to outdo each other and to gain more subscribers. At end of 2005, there were 34.78 million cell-phone subscribers, up from 32.94 million a year earlier. Smart had 15.42 million subscribers; Globe, 12.5 million; Piltel, 4.9 million; Digitel, 1.86 million; and Extelcom 10,374.
Revenues from wireless services accounted for about half of the telcos earnings. The Ayala-led Globe earlier reported that its first half net service revenues continued to rise by 6 percent year on year and 1 percent quarter on quarter, to reach P28.5 billion. Globe attributed its strong revenue growth to the value-based promos under its Super Sulit tariff initiatives, including the industry-leading per-second charging promo for local and international calls. The PLDT, on the other hand, said its consolidated wireless service revenues rose 6 percent to P18.9 billion for the first quarter. The company will release its second-quarter result on August 8. In terms of fixed-line business, the NTC said PLDT has a majority share of 60.70 percent to 2.043 million followed by Digetel, 12.20 percent; Innove, 9.80 percent; Bayan Telecommunications Inc., 6.74 percent; Philippine Communication, 1.57 percent; and Piltel, 1.37 percent. Total landline subscription reached 3.4 million. Metro Manila had 1.62 million, followed by Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon, 581,450; Central Luzon, 271,175; Central Visayas, 222,478; Western Visayas, 135, 385; Ilocos, 111,696; and Davao, 108,916.
MANILA＊S city hall plans to transform Escolta, the postwar era＊s premier financial and commercial district in Binondo, into a world-class Information Technology center. Swanky shops, cinemas and restaurants used to line Escolta. The district fell into hard times after giant shopping centers sprouted in Makati City and other outlying areas. To reinvigorate the district, Mayor Lito Atienza signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc., headed by its President Francis Chua, and the Escolta Commercial Association, Inc., headed by its President Arturo C. Dy, to collaborate efforts to immediately develop and promote Calle Escolta as an ultra-modern IT hub. ※This is a very effective way of stimulating the economy; and with everyone working together, we will soon see vibrant business activity〞providing modern services to people and enterprises, and generating more livelihood for Manilans,§ Mayor Atienza said. Besides initiating legislation for the development of Escolta as an economic and IT zone as required by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, the city government will offer additional incentives to prospective IT investors, such as a five-year exemption from the payment of building permit fees, business sales taxes and other fees and charges.
Atienza said city hall is also considering granting exemptions from payment of real-property taxes on improvements introduced by investors. In cases of existing improvements, the exemption will apply to the increase in assessment because of the rehabilitation, adaptation, expansion or introduction of equipment and machineries. Initially there are eight buildings including the city-owned PNB, that meets the minimum business floor area of 5,000 square meters for it to be accredited by PEZA as an IT building. Among the privately owned buildings set for PEZA accreditation are the First United Building, Regina Building, Madrigal Building, Natividad Building, Noah＊s Arc Building, Capitol Building and the Gonzalo Puyat Building. Complementing the IT center development will be the Escolta Waterfront Development where food and beverage stalls and al fresco cafes will be put up to provide entertainment and relaxation to residents, employees and visitors. Traffic flow and parking will be eased by the Tranvia Escolta Loop while peace and order will be maintained by a 24-hour security force similar to the Baywalk Patrol.
FASTER deployment of applications, network security and lower total cost of ownership are the three things Philippine small-to-medium scale enterprises (SMEs) consider when they make information technology investments, according to a report by the International Data Corporation (IDC) research group. Surveying the buying behavior of 131 SMEs nationwide, IDC also found that most of these companies were spending more on hardware, particularly PCs and servers and chose products based on features and after-sales support in addition to lower costs and previous experience with a given brand of equipment. Jubert Alberto, IDC Philippines senior analyst for peripherals and consulting, said SMEs are more aware now of the advantages of building up their IT infrastructure.
Some of you will soon be able to watch high-definition (HD) programmes on your personal computer. Between August and September, the Media Development Authority (MDA) plans to start a trial of HD programmes using Internet Protocol (IP), a standardised method of transmitting information across the Internet in packets of data. MDA chief information officer Yeo Chun Cheng, 46, revealed this to TODAY in an interview on the sidelines of BroadcastAsia, an annual exhibition and conference on the latest technologies in digital and interactive media. He said the initiative would involve at least 1,000 households and last about six months. The trial comes shortly after similar HD trials were recently launched on terrestrial and cable TV by MediaCorp and StarHub, respectively. Both companies are collaborating with MDA, which is spearheading moves to introduce Singaporeans to HD programming, a digital technology promising pictures that are about five times sharper than analogue broadcasts, and in a wide-screen format with surround sound. ※We can deliver content in various platforms ... We create a trial to give an occasion for broadcasters to test out what is the right platform, the right business model, the right kinds of content that consumers actually want,§ Mr Yeo said.
He added that Singapore Telecommunications was among ※a number of very interesting players§ 〞 both foreign and local 〞 that wanted to get involved in the trial. The eventual commercial rollout would probably see competition among several service providers, Mr Yeo said. When asked how much HD programming over the Internet would cost, he said it was hard to tell as the market was new and had no existing business model. But he expects broadband prices, which have been on the decline over the past two years, to continue falling. As for the price of viewing HD content over the Internet, Mr Yeo said: ※My feeling generally is that some content may be free, some you will have to pay, some may be paid for by company advertisements.§ Mr Yeo joined MDA in 2004, after spending about eight years in Silicon Valley working for start-ups including D2K, a data warehousing firm, and Life Capital, which provides business-to-business services.
SINGAPORE : Homegrown company Info@SEA has unveiled a Digital Tidal Atlas that can to provide timely information about tides and currents in Singapore waters. This Web service, the world's first, can in turn help ship and berth operators save time and money. The newly-launched company is a joint venture of the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore and its two European partners, British Maritime Technology and Denmark-based DHI Water and Environment. The Digital Tidal Atlas can give ship and berth operators timely information on tides and currents, with a 10-minute time delay. Its creators say this is a marked improvement over a bi-annual tide timetable book. Said Mark Womersley of BMT Asia Pacific, "For large ships, for terminals it's difficult for them to get detailed predictions of the water movement hour by hour, minute by minute. The industry has been extremely interested in what we've been doing. They've also been part of the process of what we've been doing." The project costs SS$1 million and has taken two years to develop. The online portal relies on underwater sensors and hydraulic formulas to calculate tidal conditions.
It has applications in search and rescue missions; search areas can be narrowed because of more accurate and timely data on current and flow direction. It is also expected to save fuel costs for ships and turnaround time at docks. Said Donald D'Cruz, CEO of Info@SEA, "Ship captains have to make a certain time at the pilot station. If he does not make the berth on time, penalties may be imposed on the ship because contain cranes are waiting, the berth is empty and there is a lot of cost involved. Secondly, he saves fuel because he doesn't have to burn excessive fuel to get there on time." The next logical step for Info@SEA is to do tidal forecasts over larger stretches of waters. It expects to work with marine authorities in neighbouring countries to do more research and development. It also plans to explore other technologies, like satellite, to complement the measurements from its underwater sensors. For a start, the online tidal almanac can only be used to check the currents in Singapore, but there are plans to expand its coverage to China and Australia.
A new portal to keep overseas Singaporeans connected to home will be launched later this month. This was revealed by Singapore's ambassador to China, Chin Siat Yoon, at the Republic's National Day Dinner celebrations in Shanghai. Singaporeans in Shanghai got a little taste of home this year as the 41st National Day Celebrations is held for the first time at a beach resort in the Songjiang District of Shanghai. Some 1,000 Singaporeans turned up, making this the largest National Day gathering in China. It was also a special occasion for Mr Chan Heng Wing, the newly-appointed Consul-General of Shanghai. The widely travelled diplomat has celebrated National Day abroad for the past decade. Mr Chan said: "The turnout is something I didn't expect and I'm so pleasantly surprised. I'm so happy that so many Singaporeans have come. I think there's something about Singapore that stays in the heart although many of them have been here for many years." One such person is 18-year-old Ang Hui Xue. Even though he left Singapore when he was only 4, he still feels strongly about Singapore.
He said: "I'm born in Singapore, you love your country where you are born. And then the food there is good. I'm fond of the food and fond of everything Singapore makes me; and I'm going to the army, I can't wait to be in the army and represent Singapore and fight for Singapore if anything happens." There are more than 7,000 Singaporeans living in Shanghai - and this overseas community is expected to grow. Mr Chin said: "We really want to allow Singaporeans abroad to feel they are not detached from Singapore but they are actually part of Singapore, they have a say and a stake in the running of Singapore. There are other initiatives coming up of course, the OSU, the formation of the Overseas Singaporeans Unit. There'll be a launch of the OSU portal in Shanghai later this month by Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng." But nothing wins Singapore hearts - like a little karaoke. Both the Consul-General and the Ambassador entertained the Singaporeans with a special performance to raise money for charity.
SINGAPORE : Consumers can get instant access to their credit files online from next month. But they will need their SingPass identification and PIN number to access the confidential information. Credit Bureau Singapore will launch the new service called My Credit File - Online. The facility allows consumers to log on to the Credit Bureau Singapore website to view their personal credit records and payment histories. Consumers can continue to have a choice of getting a copy of their report either from SingPost or from the bureau's head office in Shenton Way. Another alert service, My Credit Monitor, will be available on-line in the coming months. My Credit Monitor notifies consumers - through e-mail or post - each time a lender makes an enquiry on their file or if a missed payment is loaded on their file. My Credit Monitor allows consumers to check that delinquency reports are accurate and also warns them of potential fraud.
SINGAPORE : Singapore's infocomm technology sector is growing fast. It raked in revenues of around $37 billion last year and employs 111,400 professionals. And the digital media sector alone is expected to create at least 6,000 new jobs by 2018. But such rapid growth and the fast pace of technological changes will mean new challenges for government, companies and workers in the industry, said Minister of Community Youth and Sports Dr Vivian Balakrishnan at the Infocomm Sector's National Day Observance Ceremony on Tuesday morning. Workers rely on unions to look after their interests and to ensure lifelong employability while media companies have to make sure salaries remain attractive and move up in tandem as Singapore intensifies its efforts to develop creative industries as a new growth engine for the economy. "I'll like to see the people treated as members for life and the union's job is to make sure you get a fair deal in your current job. And if you need to get another job, do you have the necessary skills, experience to get that job, get a good pay and move up with life? The prospects are bright as demand grows and I'm sure demand will grow, and I would expect salaries to increase in tandem with that," said Dr Balakrishnan. But the industry requires constant retraining and skills development to keep up with the latest technologies. Manual labour is slowly being phased out while new demands and developments might also out-space some of the older workers. So unions and employers must work together to provide the support to help workers train and re-train. Digital media has been identified as a new frontier for Singapore's economy.
SINGAPORE: One of the biggest changes which will impact Singapore's future is the arrival of the digital age, says Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his National Day Rally. He said there are schemes to help all Singaporeans - young and old - adapt. The government, too, must adapt, by using art and humour to get its point across, instead of issuing stuffy statements and rebuttals. But, Mr Lee added, the government must also remain serious and responsible and people must learn to distinguish what is true or false on the Internet. Laws will continue to apply in cyberspace even as the government encourages criticisms from the people. Nonetheless, Mr Lee believes that the digital age will keep Singapore connected. And, examples abound showing how Singaporeans are anchored in emotional ties to the community. University alumni are getting more active, volunteers are caring for the environment, and more are also helping in humanitarian work around the region. Looking ahead, PM Lee said that the outlook for Singapore's economy is bright, with a record 200,000 jobs created in the last two years. But Mr Lee said that although the overall outlook for the region is good, there are some major risks like high energy prices and the threat of terrorism.
In ASEAN itself, Mr Lee said, while the countries - especially Vietnam - are growing, several are facing difficulties, for example, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. "ASEAN has to get its act together. We talk about ASEAN being the body with two wings, China and India, taking off and carrying us along. But if your body is not strong and the two wings are very strong, whether you are a bird or an aeroplane, you would have a problem," he said. PM Lee added that rising oil prices - as a result of tensions in the Middle East - is one major risk for Singapore. But he assured Singaporeans that if there is a global recession, the government will help the lower-income groups. However, Mr Lee said that he is confident Singapore's economy will continue to grow, particularly in new fields such as biomedical science, environmental and water technologies and interactive and digital media. To sustain this growth, Singapore needs to grow its population and one way is to welcome new immigrants, even if some Singaporeans have reservations. "To grow and flourish, we must let people come and invite people to come who can help us achieve our goals. And if they come from China or India or Russia, if they can integrate into our society and make a contribution, I say they are Singaporeans too," Mr Lee said.
Teams of judges are now reviewing over 130 entries in the 2006 Thailand ICT Awards (TICTA), with the next round of judging to take place during the Bangkok ICT Expo in early August. A total of 137 entries, the highest number ever, are in 15 categories, spanning applications across all industry sectors along with categories for student projects, start-up companies and one for research and development. This year is the fourth time these awards are being staged by the Ministry of ICT, the Software Industy Promotion Agency (SIPA) and the Association of Thai Computer Industry (ATCI) and they are limited to locally-developed software that allows for a maximum of 25% of the code to be foreign modules. Last week and this week separate teams of three to four judges for each category were reviewing presentations and engaging in a question and answer session lasting a total of 35 minutes for each entry. There will be a trophy for the winner in each of the 15 categories, along with awards for two runners-up as well as a prize for the most popular vote.
The final judging will take place on August 31 at TICTA Award Night 2006 and the winner in each category will have the opportunity to travel to Macau for the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA 2006) in early November. Most participants will have a booth at the ICT Expo August 2-6. Judges will score the entries for their uniqueness, proof of concept, functionality and for the quality of the software presentation, with points for the presentations as well. Presiding over the team of judges is ICT Minister Dr Suchai Charoenratanakul while his deputy is Software Industry Promotion Agency president Manoo Oradeedolchest. The categories comprise application and infrastructure tools, communication applications, education and training, e-government and services, financial applications, general applications, healthcare, industry applications, media and entertainment, research and development, secondary school projects, security, start-up company, tertiary student projects and tourism and hospitality.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Vietnam will purchase around 450,000 computers this year according to a recent survey conducted by US-based Access Markets International (AIM) Partners. The survey says that only 11% of 730,000 SMEs in Vietnam, which have from 1 to 99 employers, use computer for business. More than 40% of SMEs that do not have a computer now plan to purchase one within the next 12 months. On the other hand, an amount of $263.3 million will be spent on IT. The survey shows that Vietnamese SMEs are now in the first stage of adopting IT and constructing fundamental infrastructure for IT. According to AMI Partners, SMEs in the world would apply IT in 3 stages, from setting up infrastructure to connecting and then applying advanced IT solutions to expand their business network. In the first stage, SMEs invest in PCs, printers, and other IT products to improve their business efficiency. They purchase IT products mostly from retailers and have high demand for basic services and supports.
※As the rate of Vietnamese SMEs applying IT is low and the Government has many initiatives in using IT as a tool to push up socio-economic development, SMEs will have so many IT investment plans, focusing on purchase of computers, especially PCs rather than laptops§, said Ms. Diana Ng, an AMI Partners expert at the firm＊s Singapore office. ※Moreover, Vietnamese SMEs that have computers say that replacement of backward hardware with new ones and expansion of hardware facilities are 2 out of 10 strategic points for 2006§, she further said. Nearly three quarters of computers to be produced this year are to meet businesses＊ demand for additional PCs, only 18% are for replacement of backward PCs. In the next 12 months, more than 80% of Vietnamese SMEs will purchase PCs from retailers. The remaining 20% say they will buy PCs directly from manufacturers.
The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Begum Khaleda Zia inaugurated the long awaited fibre optic submarine cable system near the shore of the Bay of Bengal on 22 May 2006. It will have a far-reaching effect on the progress and prosperity of Bangladesh. This event will remain as a landmark in the fields of economics and ICT sector. With this submarine cable system the capacity for data and information transfer will be much higher, the speed of transfer will be much faster, voice transfer will have much better quality, the Internet and telephone charges will fall abruptly. As a result a host of possibilities for IT activities will open up in Bangladesh. Now, it will be possible to open a huge number of cyber centres in the small towns and villages in the country. Now the time has come for Bangladesh to reap the best results from different domains of ICTs
The new subscribers of the fixed phone lines of the state-owned telecommunication service provider are not getting connections due to its poor cable network as well as poor capacity. The new subscribers applied for the fixed phone lines of Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) as it recently cut its connection charges by 40 per cent. The BTTB connection charge now stands at Tk 6,000 against the previous rate of Tk 10,000 for Dhaka and Chittagong multi-exchange areas, Tk 4,000 against Tk 8,000 for other districts and Tk 2,500 against Tk 5,000 for Upazilla and growth centres. The applicants, who have even deposited connection charges, are also not getting the connections as the BTTB capacity as well as its cable network, which was installed about 45 years ago in the Pakistan regime, are very poor. There is no immediate plan to improve the BTTB network capacity. So giving any new connection in the existing situation will create an extra pressure on the network, said a source. Due to cable crisis, BTTB has not been able to give the connections under its existing capacities in the Dhaka multi-exchange area, though in the last one year its capacity was increased by 100,000 more numbers. The BTTB exchanges in the country had a total capacity of 1,203,057 telephone numbers up to June 30 last. So far 889,174 telephone connections have been given with the remaining capacity being 314,883 telephone connections. But against the remaining capacity, now there are 94,433 applications lying pending for new connections. Of them, 19,648 applicants have deposited connection charges.
In Dhaka multi-exchange area there are 31 exchanges with the total capacity of 527,286 telephone numbers. But against the capacity, 493,827 telephone connections have been given. The BTTB still can give 33,559 more telephone connections in the area. But the applications lying pending against the remaining capacity are 39,005, and of them, 15,643 persons have deposited connection charges at the previous rate of Tk 10,000 each. BTTB cannot extend services to the applicants because of its cable network problem. On the other hand, without ensuring services to the old applicants, the BTTB cannot extend services to the new ones. Another hurdle to getting BTTB telephone connection is bribery, said a source. How much the government has reduced the connection charge is not important as without paying bribe it has become almost impossible to get connection, the source added. Alongside with the connection charge, a subscriber has also to pay an equal amount of bribe, otherwise the application will remain shelved for years. Increasing the numbers of telephone connections will not work as the cable network of the exchanges in Dhaka city is not good, which was installed nearly 45 years ago in the Pakistan regime. And there is no plan to develop the cable network, sources said. (by Bazlur Rahman)
Private mobile-phone users are far away from getting completely free BTTB incoming facilities as the revenue sharing agreement between the Board and private mobile operators is still to materialise, reports BDNews. Though the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) had taken an initiative regarding the agreement, nothing has come out of it as yet. The revenue sharing proposal has been lying for approval in the finance ministry since long, BTRC sources told BDNEWS Thursday. Despite the revenue sharing agreement hanging in the balance, the BTTB has increased its charge for a call to a mobile phone. Earlier, a caller from a BTTB phone to a cellphone could talk for five minutes at Tk 1.5. But now a caller has to pay Tk 1.5 for every minute. The BTTB argued that for revenue sharing based on free-T&T incoming facility, the authority had no other way but to increase the tariff. However, subscribers of public mobile operator Teletalk pay no incoming charge under an agreement with BTTB signed on July 18 last year. The BTTB authority at the time, had agreed to conclude same agreements with other mobile operators. BTTB sharing agreement with Teletalk was the first time that a mobile operator would be getting revenue from the BTTB. According to the agreement, for a call from T&T to Teletalk, the BTTB pays the operator 30 paisa per minute, and from Teletalk to BTTB, the former pays the latter 70 paisa per minute.
For an international (ISD) call through BTTB, the board pays Tk 1 per minute to Teletalk while Teletalk pays the BTTB Tk 2 per minute for the same. The then chairman of the BTTB had told BDNEWS that the agreement between the BTTB and private mobile operators would have to be revised following the revenue sharing agreement with Teletalk. The existing private mobile operators can now give their users a maximum of five minutes free T&T incoming facility. According to the private mobile operators, such an agreement would allow them to offer free BTTB incoming facilities to their subscribers as was in the case of Teletalk.
The Indian Railways plans to move towards IT-based procurement for its high value procurements across all zones in a phased manner against the present practice of manual procurement. The e-Procurement pilot project has been successfully implemented in Northern Railways and about 1,000 tenders have been processed through the e-Procurement process. This is, however, ten percent of the 10,000 tenders issued by Northern Railways. The project would now be extended to other Zonal Railways in a phased manner.
The growing use of IT in government departments of India is the fact that Government of India (GoI) has acknowledged the potential of IT and started looking at it as a component of progress. There was a time when the Government of India didn't really count as a buyer of IT. This situation has changed drastically over the past few years. The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) is the catalyst of the GoI's e-Governance initiative. Dr Shakeel Ahmad hails from rural Bihar in an interview with. Aware of and concerned with the ground realities and basic infrastructure (or lack thereof) at the village level, Dr Ahmad understands that the key for the development of the masses lies in Information Technology and Communications (ICT). The government is now making sincere efforts to provide telecom access in the rural areas. Towards this, about 5.5 lakh villages out of 6 lakh have already been provided with telephone connectivity. This data shows the results-oriented approach and the serious efforts of the government to reach out to rural India. However, IT penetration at the back-end of the government and business processes is going to change the Indian scenario in a big way within the next three to five years, forecasts Dr Ahmad.
The OpenDocument Format Alliance (ODF Alliance), a broad cross-section of associations, academia and industry dedicated to improve the accessibility to electronic government documents held the first national event in support of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) at New Delhi, which will change the way data is managed across the globe. The Open Document format (ODF) is an open XML-based document file format that enables the retrieval of information and exchange of documents (including spreadsheets, charts, and presentations) without regard to the application or platform in which the document was created - both now and in the future. Representatives from the various organisations deliberated on the potential of Open Document Format (ODF) in India and action points, which would significantly help increase IT penetration in the country, leading to a narrowing of the digital divide and independence from particular vendors. The key members of the National ODF Alliance, who bring this to India, primarily include Sun Microsystems, IBM, Red Hat, IBM, Novell, CDAC and faculty from IIT Delhi, IIM Ahmedabad and IIT Bombay. Highlighting the importance of ODF in Indian IT Scenario, Chandershekhar, secretary, Ministry of Information & Technology, Government of India said that with formation of a National ODF alliance, India too would be playing a pivotal role in spearheading the ODF revolution.
The Indian government has come out with a visionary National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) that will definitely put India firmly on track for using IT for better governance. However, this is not the first and only structured e-Governance initiative by the governments in India. Such initiatives had been taken up by the central government earlier in the department of customs and excise, taxation, railways, etc. Similarly, many e-Governance initiatives have been taken up at local government level like the urban local bodies. It is a fallacy to assume that e-Governance has had no impact on the poor. In fact, any savings of the government directly translates to enormous savings for the national coffers, with a multiplicative.
The e-Governance initiative to bring connectivity through out the country may result in the increase of desktop buyers in the next two years in India. ayanidhi Maran, Minister for Communications and IT had announced, HRD Minister Arjun Singh's proposal for broadband connectivity to the Secondary and Higher Secondary schools in the country by 2007. All public health care centres and Gram Panchayats would also be provided with broadband coverage, which would give boost to the desktop sales. Manufacturers' Association for Information Technology (MAIT) in its industry performance review stated that as a result the number of desktop buyers in the government sector will increase which currently contributes to the 3 percent to the list of desktop buyers. The penetration of kiosks and personal computers in the rural areas of this sector will also witness a steady growth in the next 2 years.
PC penetration in India trebles to from 6.3 per 1,000 people in 2000-01 to 18 per 1,000 in 2005-06, according to data provided by the Manufacturers' Association for Information Technology. In India, in 2005-'06, PC penetration has been 18 per 1,000 people. The momentum of growth is expected to continue further. PC sales as well as penetration in the country are expected to be more than double every three years. PC sales in the country grew 32 per cent to cross the 5 million mark in 2005-06. A sizeable chunk of the demand has resulted from the e-Governance programme of the government and the rapid pace of computerisation of the branches of public sector banks in last five years. The boom in IT and IT-enabled services sector has made this change possible. With decrease in import duties on components, PCs have become more affordable. The same factors are expected to contribute to the growth in PC sales in coming years also.
NEW DELHI: Indian Internet users, angry at being denied access to popular weblogs, have lashed out at the government for banning some websites in the wake of last week's Mumbai train bombings. "India has clearly joined the Internet Filtering Club of China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Ethiopia," wrote professional blogger Amit Agarwal on his website, Digital Inspiration. "If the access to restricted websites is not restored in a day or two, this issue is sure to gather active momentum in the Western blogosphere." Amit Varma on his India Uncut website added: "I hope it's just a kneejerk reaction by some clueless babu (bureaucrat) that is soon corrected. I hope we don't go the China way." The government has not given an official reason for the ban. But the media quoted unnamed officials as saying it was meant to check websites spreading hate messages after the bombings killed more than 180 people on July 11. A government official said only two websites had been blocked. "I have seen the government order. Only two weblogs -- pyjamaeditors.blogspot.com and exposingtheleft.blogspot.com have been blocked," Gulshan Rai, head of cyber security agency Computer Emergency Response Team, told AFP. The Hindustan Times newspaper, however, printed a list of 17 websites it said were mentioned in an order two days after the Mumbai blasts. Internet users said they could not access hundreds of other weblogs as most Internet service providers did not have the technology to block individual blogs on a hosting site such as blogspot.com. Not all service providers, however, had implemented the ban, allowing many surfers to visit the blocked websites.
A visit to the blocked websites suggested the ban was random and not necessarily a response to content inciting hatred. Exposingtheleft.blogspot.com, for instance, has web postings on American politics and developments in the Middle East. Pajamaeditors.blogspot.com, on its front page, has no reference to either the bombings or any development in India. Officials refused to say on what basis the websites were selected for the gag. "Ask the departmemt of telecoms," said Rai, while the ministry of telecommunications, under which the department comes, recommended a call to Rai for the official version on the ban. "This block is a mindless exercise and shows our bureaucrats don't understand technology at all," cyber-law expert Sarabjit Roy told the Hindustan Times daily. The blocking of sites had also prevented access to another site, mumbaihelp.blogspot.com, which was set up to help relatives of the victims of the blasts. Hundreds of people had logged on to seek people missing after the bombings and offer help to others. Many bloggers, meanwhile, responded to the blocking by setting up pages on other websites and showing readers ways to circumvent the ban. One such way is to use the gateway pkblogs.com, a site popular among Pakistani users for bypassing government censorship. Internet use has grown quickly in India after prices fell during the deregulation of the telecom sector in the past five years. There are nearly 38 million Internet users among the 1.1 billion populations.
The study conducted by NASSCOM and KPMG, shows that there would be dearth of IT talent by the year 2010, in the country. The estimation comes more than 2.35 lakh jobs in IT and ITES sectors that may go weird for lack properly trained personnel. Human Resources executives and educational institution representatives discussed the issue in detail at the `HR Summit' organised by NASSCOM on `Profile of the emerging IT-ITES workforce: shaping the talent pool' in Chennai recently. The key factor emerged in the summit was not the `number of students', but the `average suitability of students for the market'. As a solution, it was highlighted on the relevance of 'soft skills' which is important for the students to know how to behave in a cross-cultural work environment. That is the present and the future of IT sector. On contrary, it was also perceived that, certain jobs would require less of communication skills and 'more of coding'. It is better to work on one's strengths and the upcoming graduates should be groomed to face the situation.
The talk between representatives of Dubai Internet City (DIC) and Kerala Government officials on the Smart City project in Kochi has ended successfully with a positive outcome. It was a free exchange of the respective positions. The Government, on its part, stuck to its stated position that there would not be any compromise on Infopark and the exclusivity clause. It was made clear that the State Government would retain the Infopark and would go all out to develop it. At the same time, DIC could bring as many companies as possible and help develop the IT and ITES (IT-enabled services) sectors in the State. The DIC representatives were told that the Government would extend all assistance to it in this respect. DIC could develop the proposed venture as a private park and the Government would provide facilities such as road connectivity, power and water as it does for other IT companies and IT parks in the State. Out of 136 acres readily available at Kakkanad in Kochi, DIC will be given 114 acres and Infopark will retain 22 acres. Smart City will have the first right of refusal on this 22 acres if Infopark decides to hand over the land to a private developer. The discussions were encouraging with both sides expressing their views frankly.
Right to information Act, 2005 has come in to force in India. With its legislation, it is said that Indian citizen has now the right to "demand information" if desired and every public authority is liable to share information. This right to information act is perhaps originating from Arctice 21 of right to life and liberty. It recognizes the importance of informed citizenry, maintenance of transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and to hold government and their instrumentalities accountable to be governed. In other words it is meant for putting systems in place; operationalise these to bring transparency in governance systems. In order for appreciating the "right to information", it is essential that we discuss the fundamentals of information. Information is defined to be a "form of data" that provides a context as well as some meaning to the recipient. Therefore, information is citizen-centric whereas data sources reside with the information providers i.e. public authorities / organizations in this case. In this exchange process, managing latency in maturing transactions, maintaining current forms of data and above all the place of receiving the service are bound to influence the very nature of Act. Therefore, relevant and adequate infrastructure and policy level support need to be put in place to optimize the latency on coordination and transactions to respectfully implement the objectives of the Act. It is a mammoth task that lies before the governments. Governance and government systems are essentially meant for such services. National e-governance plan (NeGP) of ministry of IT, Government of India, with the mandate to provide information to citizens and especially to the rural citizens through 100,000 citizen service centres is a step in this direction. State level wide area networks (SWANs) and content designs are planned in this NeGP with the objectives of providing common and integrated portals for ICT enabled services. NeGP action plan will certainly synergize the objectives of the right to information Act.
Process architecture of this Act recognizes "latency" as one of the critical factors and makes the information providing agencies accountable. The other factor that needs to mention here is the "fee" that is charged for providing information. Urban, semi-urban population probably would benefit much from this Act and may not be affected much due to the built in latency and fee structure. But how equitable is the benefit it in the context of rural-urban divides? Rural citizens are still facing daunting deprivation from the infrastructure as well as services. ICT infrastructure readiness exercises in the national level and state levels speak enormously about the voids that rural India still encounters. Though state level readiness exercise has recently been put in place, policy is yet to be framed to assess the ICT infrastructure readiness in rural areas. This Act which is centered around information provision does not speak about the support processes, work flows among processes that the information commissioners should look at. The Act is primarily perhaps meant to engage in a reactive process delivery which means information demanded would be looked in to and provided for with an expected latency and cost. Any deviation would be referred to the bureaucratic system for redress. However, it needs to explore the possibilities of arranging information proactively as well as routinely. This means enough management exercise needs to be built in to the process linking information commissions with that of the government as well public offices. In absence of process links, it would probably be difficult to provide rural citizens who are unable to transact with machinery, manage the latency and even meet the costs. Livelihood security is a major problem among rural citizens and information is very critical to support their livelihood securities. The latency accepted in the Act ranges from forty-eight hours to thirty days. The transaction cycle also does not describe the place/premise of initiating it and receiving the services. It is therefore, necessary to provide information proactively to the rural citizens who need immediate attention to their livelihood problems. A synergic link between NeGP and right to information Act is probably warranted in the policy level to garner the benefits.
The IT and IT Enabled Services market across metros and in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune is driving the growth of real estate absorption. The retail industry boom is set to add fuel to this market. Global real estate consultancy provider CB Richard Ellis, in its Indian market view brought out last week, has indicated that the real estate industry, besides attracting investments, is witness to a lot of activity with the majority of space taken up by IT and ITES players.
Realty Funds Six major cities across India saw the new supply of over 9 million sq. ft. in the first half this year to fulfill the growing demand. Providing insights into market trends, the CBRD report points that both rental and capital values are on the upsurge. A few local trends are also witnessed as the case with Mumbai where there was growing interest from international banks and private equity.
Foreign funds entry While the domestic realty funds have raised approximately $4.5 billion, the entry of foreign funds and developers is likely to spur further activity. This will also ensure that the levels of construction and governance issues will bring in transparency and professionalism. To add to this development, it is estimated that with the opening up of the real estate sector, more than $15 billion in foreign funds are awaiting investments in India. In Delhi, it is likely that the rental and capital values will remain buoyant with the new supply hitting the central market, Noida continues to be a preferred location among home grown IT companies, energised by the presence of DLF and Unitech. However, Gurgaon is likely to outpace other destinations in the Northern Capital Region. Bombay has been witness to transactions of Keppel Fels, HSBC, Nokia, Citibank, Woolworth, Saint Gobain and Globeop Financial Services. During the first six months of 2006, Bangalore witnessed commitment of over 5.1 million sq. ft wherein the software services has been the fastest driver of the demand for commercial space and about 9.4 million sq. ft of commercial space are under construction.
Vacancy Rate While Chennai is witness to about 3 million sq. ft absorption, the vacancy rate is less than 4-4.5 per cent; in Hyderabad, about 90 per cent of the space absorption is driven by the IT and ITES sectors. With the Pune municipality announcing plans to hike restrictions from 36 metres to 60 meters, this move is seen to boost construction activity. A connecting trend reflects that there is considerable pressure in the Central Business District for quality space and spiralling rentals are forcing companies to look beyond the central areas. The other trend relates to efforts to spread the development to new areas in the peripheries of the cities.
The State Government of Karnataka, India, will open 1,000 tele-centres across the state like the Bangalore One citizen service centres to enable people to pay their bills and access other services under one roof.The State's e-Governance Secretary, Rajiv Chawla, said people in other parts of the State would also be able to pay their bills, buy bus passes, check land records and access 38 services of the Revenue Department through kiosks at the tele-centres. The Government planned to open one kiosk in each hobli, he said. One of the highlights of the tele-centres would be that people could lodge a police complaint from there. Citizens would be able to purchase railways tickets through Bangalore One centres shortly. He said that the Government also proposed to launch airline ticket booking through the centres and talks were on with Kingfisher Airlines, Air Deccan and Indian for introducing the service. Vipin Singh, Director, Bangalore One, said 1,000 Bangalore One counters would come up in the next two months.
Sri Lanka has signed the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Use of Electronic Communication in International Contracts, known as the Electronic Contracting Convention, at the UN Headquarters recently. The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said the convention enhances legal certainty and commercial predictability in international contracts transacted through electronic communications. It sets the criteria to establish equivalence between electronic communication and paper documents and between electronic authentication methods and handwritten signatures. The Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, Prasad Kariyawasam, signed the convention on behalf of Sri Lanka. UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), which has formulated the convention, establishes greater legal certainty through the development of norms and best practices in the field of international contracts, which would contribute towards the growth of Electronic Commerce. Through the legislation, Sri Lanka would harness the potential of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to the rural masses, by empowering people with the benefits of e-Commerce.
Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, Minister for Information Technology launched FPSC automation project worth 38.59 million on Saturday. This project was to make online all the processes for registration and recruitment of government employees by the federal public service commission. ※My ministry has executed the project realizing the importance and sensitivity of tasks performed by FPSC,§ Mr Leghari said at the launch of the project. The project carried out by Electronic Government Directorate has been completed in over two years. It has established an online recruitment system with the capacity to verify and post job advertisements online, receive online applications, allocate seats according to quota, generate roll numbers and print admissions, certificates, rejection letters, keep record of results and generate test and interview schedules. As part of the project, the ministry has provided FPSC with 160 personal computers, eight server machines, one data access storage, one firewall, 20 laser jet printers, 45 printers, 141 UPS (uninterrupted power suppliers) and two LCD (liquid crystal diode) video screens. The ministry has also provided 100 licenses of office productivity and internet security software beside deployment of 380 nodes network, establishment of computer labs within FPSC to accommodate 30 persons and basic training to 300 employees of the commission.
Leghari said the automation of the FPSC was part of the massive e-government plan launched to automate all ministries, divisions, departments and hospitals such as Pakistan Institute of medical sciences (PIMS) which was recently automated at a cost of Rs. 40 million. He said the basic goal behind the e-government plan was to introduce a paperless economy save costs and improve quality and delivery of public services. We are also in the process of introducing online 20 key public services which would be outsourced to the local IT firms.§ He added
GILGIT, July 28: The Special Communication Organization (SCO) has started testing cellular phone service here ahead of its formal launch on August 14. Speaking in a radio talk show on Friday, SCO＊s sector commander Brig Abid Hussain Bhatti said that the organization had been endeavouring to provide modern telecommunications to the people of the area since 1976. He said government had provided Rs880m to SCO to improve the area＊s connectivity, including internet and mobile phone, and work on these projects was underway. He said the Northern Areas was being linked with regular telephone lines and China through an optic-fibre connection, adding that it had almost been completed except the last eight kilometres out of its 412km length that was damaged between Balakot and Kaghan after last year＊s earthquake. ※We have covered this gap through microwave circuiting and we will get 630 additional channels after the new installation. We have gotten funds to divert this along the Karakoram Highway to avoid its passing through quake-prone areas§, Brig Bhatti said. He said they had linked Gilgit, Chilas and Henna through optic-fiber and work was under way to link other districts.
He refuted the rumors about installation of outdated machinery and said that modern equipment, used by the majority of private cellular companies in the country, had been installed.He said they faced problems in laying communication network in hilly areas as the rough terrain created ＆dead zones＊. He said that so far, they had provided 9,440 phone connections in the Gilgit area and were expanding telecommunication base to the rural areas and were installting 26 digital exchanges. ※The exchange buildings are being made quake-proof and from next week, consumers will not encounter congestion encountered while dialling ＆zero＊ as we are increasing channels,§ he said.Brig Bhatti said they would offer cellular phone service at cheaper rates than other private companies and once optic-fiber network was completed, they planned to open cyber cafes.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Maj-Gen Shahzada Alam Malik has said a technical system will soon be in place to curb mobile phone snatching with the help of all cellular operators, City Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), federal and provincial police departments and other government functionaries. He was presiding over a high-level meeting on ＆Mobile Phone Blocking Equipment＊ at the PTA Headquarters here on Wednesday.
PARENTS will be given free software that prevents their children viewing internet pornography and other offensive material on home computers under a $117 million commonwealth crackdown on cyber smut. The three-year National Filter Scheme, announced by Communications Minister Helen Coonan yesterday, will also include the rollout of "child-friendly" filtering programs to all internet terminals in libraries across Australia. The Government will spend $20 million on a nationwide advertising campaign to promote the benefits to parents of using online filters, with an estimated two million families expected to take up the offer. The filter software will be able to be downloaded from internet service providers' websites or posted out as a CD to parents who call a 1800 hotline. The software, which looks for key words and certain types of images to block websites containing offensive or illegal material, must be installed on each separate home computer or library terminal.But church and family groups say the measures do not go far enough, and the Australian Consumers' Association has warned parents that only direct supervision will save their children from internet nasties.
And the federal Government does not have the power to compel state and local government libraries to install the software. The Government will also trial a bigger and much more controversial scheme that would result in filters being applied on the computer servers of ISPs, as already occurs in Britain and Indonesia. The Australian Communications and Media Authority will conduct the trial in Tasmania to assess the technology that can filter the internet before ISPs place it on their networks for access. The move is a partial victory for a vocal block of 63 Coalition backbenchers led by Tasmanian Liberal senator Guy Barnett, who wrote to John Howard in December calling for mandatory ISP filtering to tackle internet porn. Senator Coonan said the package was the biggest single commitment by government to "protecting families online in the history of the internet in Australia". "This is not a one-size-fits-all approach to protecting Australian families and we are not dictating to every Australian internet user what they should and shouldn't see," she said.
ITEMS of Australia's indigenous cultural heritage will be placed on digital video tape to preserve them for future generations. Audiovisual and written cultural heritage material stored at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in Canberra will be digitised at a cost of $12 million. Institute chairman Mick Dodson says the project will allow up to a third of the institute's audiovisual collections to be digitised by 2008. It will also lead to the development of an online indigenous research library. Professor Dodson says many of the institute's items are in poor condition, and digitisation would help to preserve them. "All items in the collection are important to us, because they each help us to piece together the histories of our people - where and how we lived and how we continue to relate to our communities and places to this day," he says. "Examples include precious footage from an expedition to the Torres Strait in 1898, recordings of long-lost Aboriginal languages that were first made on Edison wire and wax cylinder devices, and original footage from the film Land Bilong Islander about the late Eddie Kolki Mabo. The institute also has more than 650,000 photographs.
Four of Australia's largest banks have received the thumbs down in a review of their online banking systems with the ANZ emerging as "the best of a bad bunch". The study, conducted by US research group Forrester, found that illegible text, poor layouts and missing information were just some of the major design flaws that forced customers to turn to more expensive call centres and branches, or even to seek out alternative offerings from competitors. "Each of the major banks could save more than $7 million a year by making their sites easier to use," the researcher said. To come up with its findings, Forrester applied an international website review methodology to the ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac websites. The methodology has been created over seven years and results are based on findings from two individual analysts who independently test a number of criteria including content, page layout, navigation, formatting, interactivity, help functions, security and overall performance. Each of the banks needed to score a minimum of 25 out of 50 points to pass the review and meet best practice ratings. Instead they achieved scores of between -4 and -12.
To test out the sites, reviewers acted on advice from each of the banks that researching home loans and credit card deals were the top two reasons for visits to public areas on their websites. However when they set about the task of finding out about these products on each of the sites, they encountered some serious obstacles. Presentation was cited in the report as being the most common shortcoming of the websites, all of which were hampered either by illegible text, missing content or poor page layout. Forrester said Westpac scored the lowest in this category with -9 out of a possible 18 points. "To effectively use its [Westpac's] site, users need the dexterity of a 15-year-old to accurately use the rollover menus, a magnifying glass to read the text, and a lot of patience to made through the material," the report said. The other banks scored an equal of -4 each in this area and the NAB site's layout was criticised for being especially hard to scan. Each of the banking websites was also marred by serious design flaws including buried content, site errors and over-reliance on rollover menus, which can cause "misfires", said reviewers.
CBA scored the lowest at -4 in this category because its home page gave no indication that visitors could actually research and apply for a credit card or home loan online, and it was also missing important data such as key credit card fees. "Since people will only spend an average of eight seconds looking at a page, it's critical to make an impact with the home page to convert prospects online," the report said. ANZ on the other hand, made its customers click through five pages before they could even get started on a home loan application after attempts to apply directly from the home loan page failed. On a more positive note, providing feedback on users' actions and helping them recover from errors, proved to be the strongest elements of the websites, and both CBA and NAB were praised for allowing users to save some online applications for later completion. Westpac was deemed the most robust of all the sites with no minor or major errors experienced and swift page downloads, earning it a 7 out of 12 ranking that matched global best practise standards. However the report concluded that it was ANZ's value-added calculators that set it ahead of its competitors.
"Impressively, its site goes out of its way with user friendly calculators to help visitors understand and choose the most appropriate ANZ Bank product for their needs," Forrester said. It advised the banks to address their shortcomings by embracing a "design-centric culture" and learning from international peers such as http://www.bankofamerica.com, which uses a tab system to present rates and fees without clutter.
FINANCIAL fear has gripped Australia, with households insecure about their ability to make ends meet and businesses struggling to defend against internal and external crooks. Two reports depict a nation under stress from rising interest rates, petrol prices and more-advanced attacks from fraudsters and hackers who seem to always have the technological upper hand over their targets. A research house called brandmanagement has found that 54.6 per cent of a pool of 677 people felt secure about their finances last month. This was down from 62.1 per cent measured in February's survey. "There is talk of another rate rise in August and investment markets are unpredictable in the short term," Sally Manion, head of financial planning for ipac, a financial services company, said. Brandmanagement did the research on ipac's behalf. "High petrol prices are also taking a greater chunk from the household budget," Ms Manion said. "Households without a financial contingency plan are more likely to stress about factors that are out of their control." Women were particularly affected by the economic environment.
The proportion of women who felt financially secure fell from 50.3 per cent in the previous survey to 38.8 per cent last month. At the same time, technology, media and telecommunications businesses told consultancy firm Deloitte that hackers and fraudsters had the advantage as the world marched towards digital everything. "The TMT industry stands to gain handsomely from digitisation," the report says. "Yet it is now one of the industries most exposed to the risks of digital disruptions and crime. And the level of exposure is growing daily." Virus-bearing text messages and advanced email scams pose the gravest digital threats, according to the US Department of Homeland Security and the US National Cyber Security Alliance. Mobile phones and the increasing presence of personal digital assistants, most of which are unprotected, also invited hacker attacks. But the Deloitte study also warns that external threats such as these should not monopolise business concerns. The trend for smaller media with larger storage capacity meant insiders posed increasing threats to business' information, it said.
Some solace for traditional news outlets worried about how to compete with the Internet: A survey finds slowing growth in the number of people who regularly go online for the news. Almost three in 10 adults, or 31 percent, regularly log in for news, a rate roughly the same as two years ago, according to the survey released Sunday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. People in their 40s were more likely to go online for news than the younger adults. "The online news audience is maturing and at this point is wider than it is deep," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center. "We have as many as 31 percent who say they read news online regularly," he said. "But they don't spend as much time doing it as they spend with more traditional media like newspapers, TV and radio." The steady decline in newspaper readership over the past decade has leveled off because of readership of newspapers online, the survey found. "The online editions of newspapers are providing a bit of a life raft for newspapers," Kohut said. "But it's a pretty small life raft."
Just over four in 10 adults said they had read a newspaper, in print or online, the previous day, compared with 58 percent in 1994. The number of people who read a newspaper online only was relatively small, though it has kept the total from slipping further. The overall level of newspaper readership has kept fairly steady over the past four years, the survey found. The availability of newspapers online has helped keep young adults interested in papers, and the rate of their newspaper readership in print or online, while low, has not declined over the past decade. But young adults also are more likely to not follow the news at all _ an ominous reminder of the challenge still facing the industry. The survey also found that: _Newspaper reading among people 30 and over has dropped over the past decade. _Local and community news are the big attraction for newspapers. _TV remains the most popular source of news, but viewership has dropped. The number of people who regularly watch nightly network news is down to 28 percent, half the total from 1993. But the big drop-off of the 1990s has leveled off in the past six years with less dramatic declines for broadcast news _ both network and local.
"The net amount of time people are spending on news is about the same," said Kohut, who noted people can go to a variety of sources for such information. For example, 7 percent of those polled get news from new technologies such as cell phones, personal digital assistants and podcasts. Among those age 18-29, the number is 13 percent, according to the poll of 3,204 adults conducted from April 27 to May 22. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2 percentage points. With all these new options, people spend about the same time keeping up on the news _ just over an hour in a given day _ as they did a decade ago. People who go online for news cite the convenience and speed _ a factor in their preference for Web sites like Yahoo, CNN and MSNBC to get news. Google, AOL and Fox News were also among the more popular sites. One advantage still held by the newspaper over fast-paced outlets such as radio, TV and the Internet is that a majority of people find it relaxing to read the newspaper.
THE federal government may tap the vast pool of social resources behind blogs and websites such as Flickr and Wikipedia to boost its online information services. The Department of Finance's lead information technology body, AGIMO, has begun experimenting with wikis and blogs with a view to expanding their use throughout commonwealth departments and agencies. The Australian Government Information Management Office is trialling wikis and blogs internally and is investigating the expansion of these services in the government sphere," a spokesman for Special Minister for State Gary Nairn said. The advisory body would also investigate increasing use of RSS and other collaboration tools for government websites to encourage users to help improve them, AGIMO said. Wikis are part of an emerging breed of web-based software tools that allow internet communities to collaborate on establishing information services. The trial was part of a strategy to use online services to improve engagement between the community and government by 2010, the spokesman said. "The government is developing services aligned with Web 2.0 with its implementation of the 2006 e-government strategy," Tom Burton who recently left a large media organisation to become the publisher of a collaborative news site said Web 2.0 services offered large organisations a low-cost means of tackling information services projects.
Amazon.com demonstrated the principles of the concept when it included customers in a project to develop a home-grown alternative to the long-recognised book classification scheme International Standard Book Number (ISBN). Web 2.0 services may play a key role in improving handling of immigrants and detainees by the Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs. IBM, which won a contract to overhaul the department's ageing systems in June, has revealed that Immigration and Centrelink have begun to explore ways in which Web 2.0 services could be used to share information and improve border security processes. "They want to create, on the fly, a new application that could pull in travel information and financial information, feed in news from where you've been or where you're going, and create a mini-application that says, based on all these things, instantly if they need to scrutinise you more closely," IBM Australia innovations head Brad Kassell said. There were, however, still concerns about the security and data integrity of services delivered by wiki. "If you're providing these lightweight web wikis, the first thing that enterprise people want to talk about is how you manage them and put control points in place," he said. "It's not quite as easy when you're providing these generic, flexible tools." IBM said its Web 2.0 technology was 12 to 18 months away from being included in its product line-up.
WORK on a $200 million nationwide health hotline has begun, but five states are yet to sign key agreements with the federal government to establish the National Health Call Centre Network as a jointly owned limited liability company. Health Minister Tony Abbott has championed the network as a way of keeping non-urgent cases out of hospital emergency departments. The service will give callers round-the-clock access to qualified nurses, who assess symptoms over the phone, using clinical decision-making software. The nurse then advises the caller whether they should go to a pharmacy, see a doctor, attend a local hospital or call an ambulance. Mr Abbott has committed more than $100 million over five years to create the network, with states contributing about $80 million and a further $20 million earmarked to support mental health phone-support services. The network is due to be taking its first calls by July next year and full national coverage is expected by 2011. All parties have agreed to participate, but only South Australia, the ACT and the Northern Territory have signed funding and service delivery agreements, according to an Australian Health Ministers' Conference communique.
The company's name was reserved with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in February, but it seems unlikely the business structure, board of directors and chief executive will be in place this month as planned. Under a timetable set in February by the Council of Australian Governments, tenders were to be released last month and contracts finalised by December. Health Department primary care division first assistant secretary Richard Eccles told Senate Estimates the company, when formed, would oversee the tender process. "We expect that to be later this calendar year," he said. The network will build on existing state and territory health call centres. These include WA HealthDirect, operated by health call centre provider McKesson Asia-Pacific. It also provides NT HealthDirect services to the Northern Territory, and a West Australian Health phone-based health coaching program intended to assist people with chronic illnesses. McKesson, a US company, also operates the ACT's Health First call centre, a telephone-based psychiatry advice line for doctor s and a nationwide child health information service in New Zealand. McKesson has landed a $31 million contract in Victoria to provide the Nurse-On-Call telephone advice and referral service for three years from 2006. Victorian Health Minister Bronwyn Pike said the free service would alleviate pressure on emergency departments.
"We know many people come to hospitals with conditions that may be treated by a GP, but because GPs may not have an after-hours service or may not bulk bill, they come to the emergency department," she said. Nurse-On-Call line was not a replacement for the 000 emergency service, nor a replacement for GPs. "It is a general adjunct to the health system," she said. Ms Pike said Victoria could not afford to wait for the nationwide network. "We can fully integrate into a national system and we are very willing to do so when the architecture of that system has been developed, but we are still waiting," she said. The other main health call centre player is CAS Services, which has flagged its intention to bid for the NHCCN work. It runs the successful NHS Direct medical hotline in Britain, and the after-hours GP Assist line in Tasmania. Queensland has also opened a Health Contact Centre that offers nurse triage and referrals, based on the state's Smart Services telephone capabilities. Queensland Health is spending $25 million over three years on its program. South Australia's Royal District Nursing Service is launching a hotline to give advice to callers at about $5 a minute.
The independent, not-for-profit organisation that has been running a 24-hour health call centre in Adelaide for industry clients has indicated interest in bidding for the national contract. McKesson, which has annual revenues of more than $100 billion, seems to be in the box seat, however. Leo Kennedy, Department of Health assistant secretary in charge of the network taskforce, told Senate Estimates the call centre model would be based on existing services in Western Australia, the NT and the ACT, rather than GP Assist. Medical professionals will be consulted before finalising national telenursing and website protocols, he said. Australian Medical Association president Mukesh Haikerwal and Australian Nursing Federation federal secretary Jill Illiffe have urged caution. Dr Haikerwal said there was no compelling evidence that a national call centre would reduce the number of people presenting at emergency departments and that it could, in fact, have the opposite effect. "Without detailed analysis, the concept is little more than expensive window dressing," he said. Ms Illiffe said the ANF supported the call centre in principle, but there were concerns that nurses would be employed under Australian Workplace Agreements that would undercut pay and conditions.
CENTRELINK is planning to expand its payment options to include telephone and internet banking. At present, Centrelink users can pay Centrelink directly or via Australia Post outlets, but cannot make payments, such as the repayment of overpaid benefits, from their own bank accounts using phone or internet banking. The system would handle around 220,000 transactions within three years. Centrelink has issued a request for tender for the project, indicating it expected to name a preferred supplier at the end of next month. In addition to the payments system, the successful bidder would be expected a customer support service. Data security forms a key part of the project, with Centrelink planning to exchange data with the e-payments service provider via the internet. "Data transfer will be performed using a Centrelink-supplied application," the request for tender says. Service providers would be expected to modify their own systems or plug in new ones to accommodate Centrelink Payment details would be send to Centrelink as a batch transfer at the end of each day.
AS more and more Australians clock on from home, Victoria has released a discussion paper on teleworking it hopes will help the state tap the full potential of the remote office. "Teleworking has the potential to impact on issues such as the ageing population, skills shortages, workforce participation and work-life balance," Victorian ICT Minister Marsha Thomson said launching the paper. The paper cites statistics indicating more than 1 million people worked mainly from home in Australia. But the data was several years old . "We suspect that it misses some trends that we expect have accelerated the growth of teleworking in this period", the report says. It also cites figures from Telstra division Sensis from April-May 2005, which indicate 30 per cent of the working population had logged on from home during that period. Also noted is the advent of "sea change" and "tree change" migrations away from urban centres. "Anecdotally, there is much popular evidence of mid-career, financially secure professionals pursuing lifestyle and rural area options by teleworking".
The government has taken an interest in the issue because of its effect on regional development, infrastructure requirements and government employment strategies. "Furthermore, teleworking may provide benefits to Victoria if it is better understood and harnessed," the discussion paper says. The report cites several Australian and international examples of teleworking. "The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority reports that projects performed by teleworkers cost 30 per cent less, were 35 per cent better quality and took 69 per cent less time," it says. With broadband internet connections increasingly affordable, technological factors have become less of a problem, although rural areas remain an exception, the report says. Many of the barriers to teleworking were due to organisational culture, it says. Cultural problems include "organisational cultures which reward long hours at the workplace as a sign of high organisational commitment", as well as hostility towards people with commitments outside the organisation and the preference of senior managers to hire people ※similar to themselves§. Submissions on the discussion paper will be accepted by Multimedia Victoria until October 20.
There is a serious security loophole in the online banking facilities of all four of Australia's big banks - but they say it is up to you to guard against it. Last week 3.1 million bank customers in Britain were deemed to have been exposed to fraud at one of the biggest high street banks, HSBC. Its online banking system was found to be vulnerable to what is called a "keylogging" attack. And The Sunday Age has found that the online banking facilities of ANZ, NAB, Commonwealth and Westpac have the same problem. The banks say customers must secure their own computers against this type of attack although they promise to refund any innocent victim of online fraud. HSBC admitted last week it knew for two years about a security loophole in its online banking service. Cardiff University researchers found the flaw that guaranteed potential criminals quick access to HSBC bank accounts, from which they could transfer money into other accounts anywhere in the world. The flaw is only dangerous if the customer's computer is compromised by a keylogger - a "trojan horse" program installed by an internet virus that records the user's keystrokes and mouse clicks and transmits them via the internet to the virus creator.
In recent cases in Brazil and France organised crime figures have spread keylogging viruses to mount lucrative attacks on banking sites. The online sites of all four big Australian banks are vulnerable to keylogging attacks - account numbers and passwords entered at the websites of the ANZ, NAB or Commonwealth Bank would instantly be captured by a keylogger. In February Westpac tried to combat keylogging by introducing an on-screen keyboard for password entry, which it says has significantly reduced the amount of online account fraud perpetrated on its 2 million online customers. But the system is not foolproof because new keylogging viruses such as the recently spotted "Banbra" trojan also record mouse clicks and take screen shots. For 80,000 business customers wanting to transfer large sums, Westpac has developed an electronic "token" system that keyloggers cannot read. In May last year NAB introduced an opt-in system that defeats keylogging and "phishing" (when a fraudster pretending to be from a legitimate organisation sends misleading emails requesting personal and financial details).
The SMS payment security system sends a one-off password by SMS every time a user logs in. The customer bears the cost of the SMS. NAB says no customer using this system has been defrauded. But just 5 per cent of its 1.2 million internet banking customers use it. "We haven't flogged it very hard; we're just testing the customer appetite," NAB spokeswoman Megan Lane said. "We have no plans to make it mandatory. It's about giving the customer the option of increasing their level of security. But customers need to exercise some basic precautions, just as you wouldn't leave your house unlocked." ANZ says it has reduced online banking fraud by 40 per cent in the past year using fraud detection software that analyses transactions for signs of criminal activity. All banks contacted by The Sunday Age emphasised that customers should have up-to-date anti-spyware and anti-virus software to prevent keyloggers infecting their systems. Unfortunately, this may not be enough. The general manager of the Australian Computer Emergency Response Team, Graham Ingram, said the most popular brands of anti-virus software on the market fail to catch eight out of 10 pieces of malicious code that attack the average PC.
"The bad guys, the criminals, are testing their malicious code against the anti-virus products to make sure they are undetectable," Mr Ingram told business leaders last month. Westpac spokesman David Lording admitted banks were yet to settle on a foolproof answer to keylogging attacks. "We don't believe (ours) is the only, final solution," he said. "It won't be our final initiative in this area. But internet fraud is now lower than fraud in any other area of the bank."
Independent national audits of the coverage of Telstra＊s CDMA mobile phone network compared to its new 3G850 network will be conducted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, announced today. ※The Government welcomes Telstra＊s commitment to ensuring that mobile phone coverage on the new network will be the same or better than coverage offered on the current CDMA network. These independent audits will be a tangible way of confirming this,§ Senator Coonan said. ※The audits will assess voice coverage of more than 80 sites across different states and topographies. The field testing will include city and regional centres, but will mainly focus on the less well served rural, regional and remote areas. It will cover a representative sample of sites including flat, mountainous and ＆average＊ terrain, as well as wet rice-growing country and river flats. CDMA coverage will be checked through mapping and field testing in a sufficient number and mix of regional, rural and urban representative areas to give a high degree of certainty to the results. ※As part of the benchmark audit of CDMA coverage, ACMA will be briefed on Telstra＊s mapping methodology and equivalence criteria. Field testing will be conducted in the last quarter of 2006 to provide a basis for a comparative assessment of coverage to be provided by the new 3G850 network. ACMA will then audit 3G850 coverage again further into the rollout.
※ACMA will report to me on its assessments. The ACMA coverage audits will help assure the Government and mobile phone users that Telstra＊s objective of a seamless transition to the new mobile network is being achieved,§ Senator Coonan said. ※While the Government has welcomed Telstra＊s decision to undertake a major investment in telecommunications infrastructure, particularly in regional Australia, some consumers are concerned about the coverage of the new 3G850 network. Telstra has given public assurances that the CDMA network will remain in place until the new national 3G850 network provides the same or better coverage and services. ※As part of the Government＊s commitment to support the transition I established a working group in February 2006 to monitor the transition process. The working group includes representatives from the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, ACMA and Telstra. ※The working group is examining a number of key issues relating to the transition, including Telstra＊s customer engagement and information provision strategy, transitional customer issues such as handsets, the progress of Telstra＊s trials, data services issues, external stakeholder information strategy, audits of coverage, and license and contractual matters,§ Senator Coonan said. ※The audit will go a long way towards providing consumers with the confidence they need during the transition to the new 3G850 network.§
THE big banks have joined forces with National ICT Australia to develop a way to process home loans more efficiently. An e-commerce standard for electronic transfers of home-loan information was developed in 2002 by the Lending Industry XML Initiative (LIXI), a not-for-profit group with more than 65 members including ANZ, St George and the Commonwealth Bank. Working in collaboration with researchers at NICTA, the group is planning a world-first study to make the processing of home loan applications more efficient. The ultimate goal is straight-through processing. "We are talking about innovation through standardisation, LIXI chief executive Socrates Vasiliadis said. "That is, we standardise the process part so the business is free to innovate with product features and other packaging options that are considered too difficult to disseminate to the market or set up with current systems," he said. LIXI's technical focus has been to describe the loan process in terms of the data created and manipulated, he said. The study will develop a reference model to provide a method to audit the creation of loans. NICTA Empirical Software Engineering program industry liaison officer Paul Mackie said difficulties arose from differences in business rules between banks. "We have started gathering information from lenders about their business processes, such as the sequence in which they do credit checks, valuations and validate information received," he said. "Once this information has been captured and standard business processes defined, we will be able to establish a benchmark for best practice for the industry." The project will continue until mid-2008. Loan application processing is the main focus of the study, but it will also look at secure web services.
THE Australian Computer Society wants a slick new brand name for tech workers to help lift recruitment to the information industry. The brand idea was floated in the ACS＊ National Statement to the Governments of Australia paper, which was first handed over to the Queensland government today. The focus of the report, which will be distributed to other state governments, is to create a competency framework, integrity system and a governance structure for the industry. It also raised the issue of government regulation of the industry to achieve these goals. The recommendations come out of seven workshops and a survey of 124 people conducted by Technologists in the Public Interest (TIPI). TIPI was conceived by the Queensland branch of the ACS, the Queensland ICT Industry Workgroup and the Queensland Government. It commenced in early 2006 and brought together 97 senior stakeholders from the ICT community. TIPI and ACS Queensland chair Mark Lloyd said the paradox of the ICT industry was that it underpins the ※powerhouse of global activity§ but IT project train-wrecks have contributed to it losing some appeal as a profession.
TIPI marks the first time IT associations have come together to create a partnership with the government on important industry issues. However Mr Lloyd said unless one or more governments acted on the report it would just become another whitepaper. Data3 managing director John Grant believes this framework is different as the whole industry is behind it. Some of the key findings of the report are more than 70 per cent of the survey respondents believe the ICT workforce would benefit from a single word `brand' to help create a more positive image of the industry. Under a proposed ICT Naming and Competency Framework, the word 'technologist' received the greatest support, but respondents were equally keen for a brand to be created by a marketing firm. Eighty-five percent of respondents said ICT jobs should be grouped into logical specialisations. "Currently there is no competency framework to identify the skills or educational qualifications that a technologist must have to seek employment in the industry," the report said. "There are vast differences in skills sets from one practitioner to another, even though each may ostensibly claim the same job title.
" The TIPI survey also found 77 per cent supported the establishment of a defined education and experience framework like that which applies to teachers. More than 80 per cent wanted the naming conventions for ICT academic qualifications rationalised. With regards to ongoing training, 73 per cent supported the idea that to work within the ICT industry, it should be compulsory to attend ongoing training and self-development and to have those attendances logged and tracked by an independent authority. The issue of a formal code of ethics was also raised. Nearly 70 per cent of those surveyed wanted a code of ethics and more than 70 per cent of participants agreed that a national criminal identity check should apply to some parts of the ICT workforce. Lastly, the survey respondents favoured a national body to represent its concerns, similar to the Law Council of Australia. Less than 50 per cent of respondents indicated the industry should govern itself on a pluralist basis.
USE of online news sites has surged by about a third, and total newspaper circulation has fallen slightly, the latest figures show. The combined websites run by John Fairfax Holdings (owner of The Age) are the most popular. They increased their unique browsers from an average of 2.5 million a month to 3.2 million in the year to June, a rise of 27.2 per cent. Circulation of most metropolitan newspapers was stable, or fell slightly, but the circulation of The Age rose across all days, the Audit Bureau of Circulations said. Circulation of The Sunday Age rose 5 per cent, from 200,000 to 210,000. The increase was larger than any other newspaper in Australia. Circulation of The Age Monday to Friday rose from 193,500 to 201,000, up nearly 4 per cent. Circulation of the Saturday edition increased from 297,500 to 301,000 copies, up 1.2 per cent. The news websites of the major media outlets all enjoyed strong growth. But growth has not been wholly at the expense of newspaper circulation, which has been stagnant or slowly falling for many years. The website of The Age, theage.com.au, had an average of 1.5 million unique browsers a month in the six months to June 30, compared with 1.15 million for the same period last year 〞 a 31.5 per cent spike.
The Sydney Morning Herald website, smh.com.au, jumped from 1.6 million unique browsers a month to 2.1 million, up 30.2 per cent. Ninemsn.com.au is the second most popular news website. The number of unique browsers a month leapt from 2.1 million to 2.9 million. News.com.au, the website run by News Limited, attracted 1.3 million unique browsers a month to June 30, compared with 1 million a year ago. Other ratings figures supplied by Nielsen/NetRatings for last month confirm that Fairfax Digital is the leading news website, followed by Ninemsn and News Limited's combined websites, News Interactive. News Limited newspapers did not fare well in the ABC's circulation figures. The Herald Sun retained its position as the highest-selling metropolitan newspaper, but its Monday to Friday circulation fell from 551,500 to 544,700, down 1.2 per cent. Its Saturday edition's circulation dropped from 523,500 to 522,400, a fall of 0.2 per cent. Circulation of the Sunday Herald Sun increased from 620,000 to 623,000.
The shift of job advertising from print to online will continue to drive growth for several more years, online job advertiser Seek said today. Seek today reported a 67 per cent jump in net profit to $34.15 million for the 2005/06 year, following a 53 per cent improvement in revenue to $109.31 million. Paul Bassat, joint chief executive at Seek, said the result exceeded its prospectus forecasts. He said client numbers were up 42 per cent and advertising volume growth was ahead by 31.3 per cent, compared to a two per cent decline in print advertising over the 12 months.
SYSTEMS integrator Accenture is poised to build a $120 million computer system to run Queensland schools, after the state's Education Department dropped initial plans to award the contract to Fujitsu. Education Queensland is understood to be in talks with an Accenture-led consortium for the school management system project, which was first launched by the department in 2002. It is understood Fujitsu was selected for the contract late last year after a competitive tender. But executives close to the project said Education Queensland asked Accenture in March to resubmit its bid after concerns were raised about the school management software put forward in Fujitsu's bid. One source familiar with the situation said Education Queensland decided two weeks ago to go forward with the Accenture proposal and that the parties were in contract negotiations. A second executive confirmed Accenture had been tapped for the project and that the consortium is believed to include Australian school management software developer MXL. Meanwhile, other states are preparing to replace public school management software that is used to run school functions such as enrolments, student information, timetabling and libraries.
NSW Education has selected probity, assurance and business advisers for the planned replacement of its finance, human resources, learning management and student administrations platforms. It is expected to tender for a systems integrator in the next 12 months and one industry observer suggested the project could carry a price tag of up to $200 million. It is believed Queensland's school management system contract is worth about $120 million. Neither the NSW nor Queensland education departments have confirmed the cost of their school information system projects. Victoria's Department of Education and Training, is understood to have briefed prospective suppliers for a planned school software upgrade and South Australia is expected to move with plans to replace its school software in the next two months. Education Queensland has been working on its school management software replacement project for almost four years, issuing a request for information from prospective suppliers in October 2002 to gauge options for updating technology used to run its 1300 public schools.
At the time, the department claimed the new school management system could encompass up to 35 business functions and be linked to external agencies, including the Queensland Police Service, Queensland Health and the Department of Families (now the Department of Communities). An Education Queensland spokeswoman yesterday declined to comment on the project. "Education Queensland is currently in the tender process for a school management system," she wrote in an emailed response. "The tender process has not been finalised. It is not appropriate to discuss the system or tenders until the tender process has been completed." Accenture, Fujitsu and MXL declined to comment on the Education Queensland project. Accenture has already been selected as the strategic business adviser for NSW Education's planned school software upgrade, known as learning management and business reform. The company is expected to be free to tender for the department's systems integration contract when it is released to the market. Fujitsu recently worked on the design of a new $44.4 million Queensland child safety computer system, along with software companies Microsoft and Onyx.
AFTER years of encouraging Australians to do their banking on the internet, one of the big four banks has decided to extend trading hours in its traditional branch network in a bid to win more business. More than 80 ANZ bank branches nationally will open until 7pm on Thursdays or Fridays, while others such as the Doncaster Shopping Centre branch will begin 9am-to-5pm Saturday trading. The ANZ group managing director, personal division, Brian Hartzer, said that the move was made in response to customer feedback and a desire to be more competitive. "We want people who might be dissatisfied with their bank to see that there is another reason to switch to ANZ," he said. "And many people were saying to us that the old hours of banks just don't suit the modern lifestyle." The extended hours apply to 80 branches, more than half of them in Victoria. Most of the branches are located in the CBD and shopping centres, to coincide with late-night and weekend shopping hours. Mr Hartzer said the bank recognised that many customers were not happy doing complicated transactions, making mortgage inquiries or seeking financial advice online. "Internet banking and ATMs are fantastic developments, but when people want to talk about their mortgage or they want to talk about their financial needs, they want to do that in a branch," Mr Hartzer said. He said some extra staff had been hired. Westpac spokesman David Lording said the bank already opened some branches on Saturdays, more than 80 of them in Victoria. He said some branches also opened earlier in the mornings, and that the bank would continue to monitor customer needs.
Faster and cheaper broadband should be on the market by October at the latest, with the Commerce Commission expected to order Telecom to offer the fastest internet speed it can to its competitors. "[A ruling] next week is my understanding," a source close to the situation said on Friday. New Zealand's number three and four internet service providers, CallPlus and ihug, filed an application with the commission in March seeking access to unconstrained broadband service from Telecom. The application mirrored a ruling TelstraClear received in December that forced Telecom to offer the highest speeds its network was possible of delivering, which the commission found to be 7.6 megabits per second. The commission found the service should be offered on a retail-minus basis, meaning the wholesale price would be based on the average retail price minus a suitable profit margin for the reseller. In the TelstraClear ruling, the wholesale cost was found to be $27.87 per user, but CallPlus and ihug have suggested in their applications that the price should be lower because retail prices have since gone down. The new price should be $20.47, the ISPs said, which would clear the way for retail fast broadband at $30 or less a month.
The TelstraClear ruling also called for an 18-week implementation period, which is also what CallPlus and ihug have asked for. If the CallPlus and ihug determinations are finalised in the next week or two, unconstrained services would be available in early October. Telecom threatened a legal challenge to the TelstraClear ruling and, rather than risk being left out of the market longer, the two companies signed a deal for watered-down terms in January. TelstraClear has yet to roll out any services, but spokesman Mathew Bolland said they were "weeks, not months away". The commission's rulings are applicable only to the applying party, so other ISPs were not able to take advantage of the TelstraClear determination. However, Telecom has in the past said it would apply any rulings to all of its wholesale customers. Bolland could not say how that might affect TelstraClear's deal with Telecom, but he did say the agreement was for only a year. ihug chief executive Mark Rushworth said he expected the commission to skip the normal draft determination phase and go straight to a final ruling.
"We are hopeful it will be in the next week or two," he said. "That should be plenty of time." A commission spokeswoman could not comment on the determinations. The commission is in meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, so any rulings on those days are unlikely. All eyes will be on Telecom. Chief executive Theresa Gattung last week made pledges at a telecommunications conference that Telecom would no longer be obstructive. But when asked by CallPlus founder Malcolm Dick if Telecom would continue challenging his company's application for unconstrained broadband, Gattung said she had not been briefed and would not comment further. Telecom spokesman John Goulter said it was too early to comment on the pending determinations, but reiterated Gattung's position. "I wouldn't jump the gun," he said. "Theresa did mean those comments that she made."
Telecom has been told to allow internet service providers ihug and CallPlus regulated bitstream access to its network, enabling them to provide higher speed broadband. The Commerce Commission today released a final determination providing ihug and CallPlus with regulated access to a wholesale bitstream service from Telecom. Bitstream was a form of transmission capacity on Telecom's copper local access network, the commission said. CallPlus and ihug would be able to combine it with their national and international transmission capability and ISP services to support their retail broadband services. They would be able to expand their retail service offerings by providing higher speed broadband. The result would be more choice and greater competition in the broadband market. The commission decision closely followed a similar decision late last year that allowed TelstraClear the right to obtain a regulated bitstream access service.
Telecom was required to provide nationwide bitstream access to ihug and CallPlus with the maximum downstream speed technically available and an upstream speed of 128kbps, at a GST-exclusive price of $28.04 per month, the commission said. The wholesale price for bitstream access was not to distinguish between customer type or speed. The commission had concluded that a uniform wholesale price would not remove incentives for ongoing diversity in retail broadband services available at different prices. Telecom was to provide the bitstream access within 18 weeks. CallPlus and ihug applied to the commission for the determination in March. Today's decision was yet another blow to Telecom, already hammered on the sharemarket following the Government's announcement early last month of a more heavy handed regulatory environment. Before the announcement Telcom's shares were at $5.75. Yesterday they hit a 13-year low of $4.06, meaning $3.3 billion has been wiped off Telecom's value in six weeks.
New Zealand broadband uptake is improving but too slowly to improve its relative international standing of 22nd among OECD countries. Broadband subscribers here grew 29 per cent to 475,700 in the six months ended March 31 but that was down from 7 per cent growth for the six months to the end of September 30, 2005, said Statistics New Zealand. The country's low OECD ranking was one of the reasons that the Government announced in May it would break open Telecom's monopoly on its lines to achieve better and cheaper internet services - the so-called unbundling of the local loop. Business and government subscribers increased 6 per cent by 13,800 for the six months to March 31, down from 17 per cent in the 2005 period. Dial-up subscribers dropped by 6.6 per cent to 812,300. About 79 per cent of internet service providers saw the strength of competition as the greatest barrier to the growth of operations. Other common barriers were the stronger regulatory environment, the cost of international bandwidth and ISPs' access to financing. The number of ISPs dropped during the six months from 66 to 57, with larger operators increasing subscriber numbers at the expense of smaller ISPs. Ernie Newman, chief executive of Telecommunications User Association of New Zealand, said it showed the Government was right to take the regulatory action that it had as the country still had much ground to make up. "We are up against a moving target. Broadband is growing at a faster rate then PCs and mobile phones," said IDC telecommunications analyst Chris Loh. "The industry has moved into an understandably intense focus on the detail of execution around unbundling, naked DSL, and Telecom's shift to operational-wholesale separation." The survey was a snapshot before all the frenetic industry developments of the past few months. Telecom was driving a lot of change internally on its wholesale plans and consumers could expect to see substantial growth of broadband uptake in 2007 and 2008.
The Ninth China International E-commerce Conference, the biggest event in the business, will be held in Beijing on September 4 to 6 with the theme of the establishment of credit on the Web. Results of surveys on the credit system in e-commerce, satisfaction with online payment and the application status of Chinese enterprises will be published.
SHANGHAI: "I came here to find out about the latest games, but seeing all these girls is pretty good too," says 19-year-old student Fang Ming, his eyes flicking over to trace the path of a girl dressed in a white PVC mini-dress with thigh length stiletto boots to match. This is China Joy 4, the country's premier digital entertainment expo, and, as at video game shows elsewhere, the eye candy is not purely of the pixilated variety. Almost every trade stand, with the notable exception of Sony's minimalist PS3 cinema showing a loop of preview games for the new machine, comes with its own troop of models the most popular outfit being a revealing white miniskirt and crop-top combo. Others appear, no less provocatively dressed, as characters from games, often wielding Styrofoam swords as they hand out flyers, goody-bags and paper fans bearing their company's logo. In the three halls at Shanghai's New International Exhibition Centre in Pudong, where organizers hope to exceed last year's gate of 127,000 visitors over three days, the music, explosions and gunfire emanating from stands competing for visitors' attention makes normal conversation impossible. And while the majority of expo-goers will be coming to enjoy the razzmatazz and catch a glimpse of the latest games, for China's digital entertainment industry, covering mobile phone, online, PC, console and portable gaming, there is serious business to be done before the show closes on Sunday evening.
Revenue from the country's online gaming sector alone is expected to nearly double this year to around 7 billion yuan (US$870 million), with further predictions that it will double again to 14.3 billion yuan (US$1.8 billion) in 2010. As well as established foreign names like Sony, Sega and Konami, a plethora of smaller domestic companies are also exhibiting. "We're mainly here to make contact with overseas customers, and we're aiming to work with more overseas companies in the future," said Macro Chen on the Moliyo Online Media & Entertainment Portal stand. During the show, Chen's company are launching a new game called Dragon, Tiger Gate Online, which is being released simultaneously in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Chinese mainland. "China's games industry is extremely fertile, especially for online gaming, where China probably has the best potential market anywhere in the world," he added. Fertile it may be, but as fellow exhibitor Zhang Jiabing of Games College pointed out, China's computer games industry is currently lacking key talent.
"China needs 200,000 professionals for the industry, but at the moment nationally there are only about 25,000," Zhang said, promoting a three-year course in computer games development. "We want to cultivate talent for this field. The sector is mature in Japan and (South) Korea and in China we're lagging behind, but I'm optimistic we can close the gap." But most visitors to the show, which incorporates a virtual football World Cup, a "cosplay" fantasy costume competition and a beauty pageant, are happy to leave worrying about the business side of things to the professionals, while they concentrate on taking the latest titles for a good thrash. Although enjoying the show, Zhang Jingjing, 19, had one major gripe. "Well, I know why they have all these models on all the stands, but there's not really a lot for girls to look at," she said. "In computer games, besides these heroines they also have a lot of heroes, and I wouldn't mind seeing a few more of them in the flesh."
The 2006 Taipei Computer Application Show will be held August 3 to August 7 at the Taipei World Trade Center, exhibiting hardware, software and notebook PCs that are as much as NT$10,000 off their regular prices. The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), which organized the show, is allowing free admittance on August 3 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. To celebrate the show's 16th anniversary this year, TAITRA teamed up with the Taipei Computer Association (TCA) to create four multimedia displays about digital home, surveillance and automobile technology. The display, called the "U-life Digital Museum," uses animation to introduce the business and educational uses of digital archiving and provides online games and wireless Internet activities. As for product exhibition, the show is divided into several parts -- computer system products, computer appliance products, software information services, digital media products, Internet services, entertainment multimedia, informational technology and seven main product displays. About 200 companies will be present at the show. Show organizer TAITRA is offering special events this year including plane ticket giveaways, celebrity appearances and free shuttle service from exhibition grounds to the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station,
This year, a variety of laptop, digital camera, LCD television and various product models will make their appearance at the show. Though prices will not vary much between products sold in the show and on the streets, the show does make better offers involving complimentary gifts with purchases. Buyers should consider looking into laptops, as they have seen the lowest cut in prices at the appliance show this year. Sonoma (Intel mobile platform with a Pentium M CPU) and Napa (Intel mobile platform with a Core Duo CPU) laptops went for as much as NT$10,000 less than last year's prices. When shopping for digital cameras, six million pixels is standard and screens start from two and a half inches. Before buying, ask if the camera includes a 300 percent zoom or how good the focus mechanisms are. At the show, Nikon is launching its D70s Kit for NT$30,900 and the D200 for NT$49,900, tax not included. As for LCD televisions, size does matter. ViewSonic and CHIMEI are showcasing their 22-inch LCD televisions. ViewSonic is selling its 20-inch LCD television for NT$9000, with the 19-inch television nearing the same price. The company is developing technology to create larger screens at lower costs and will be at the apex of LCD television production in the future.
Preparations for the Iraq Security, Technology & Communications Summit were boosted this week with confirmation that the Iraqi Ministers of National Security and Science & Technology and their teams will be attending the event in Sharjah on 12-13 September 2006. The summit, which is being organised to provide practical, commercial and technical solutions to aid Iraq's security, defence, information and communication technology sectors, will welcome HE Shirwan Waili, Minister of State for National Security and HE Raed Fahmi, Minister of Science & Technology, along with a team of officials from their respective ministries. The ministers will be providing addresses and ministerial presentations at the summit, as well as being available for private meetings with delegates over the course of the two days. A select few places are still available for companies who wish to hear the ministries' requirements and who wish to hold consultations with the ministers during the event. A number of the pre-eminent operators in the defence, security, technology and telecoms market have already confirmed their participation at the summit, including the likes of GE, Aegis, ArmorGroup, BAE Systems, Boeing, Control Risks, Washington Group, KBR, Kroll, Land Rover, Lucent Technologies, MTC Atheer, Nortel, Northrop Grumman, Orascom Telecom, PriceWaterHouse Coopers, Raytheon and Sun Microsystems, to name but a few.
Japan needs to improve Internet access and other mobile network systems to boost efficiency, creativity and productivity and overcome challenges posed by the aging and shrinking of its population, a government report said. The Information and Communications White Paper, approved in a Cabinet meeting, called for further efforts to build a "ubiquitous" network society and make good on earlier announced plans to make Japan the world's most advanced networking society by 2010. The number of Internet users through cell phones and other mobile terminals reached 69 million, surpassing the 66 million accessing through computer terminals at the end of 2005, the report said. Some 49 million use both. The report, issued Tuesday, said further development of networks could create more flexibility in working environment, with workers using videoconferences or working from home. It could also create new jobs for specialists in management and outsourcing. The report noted, however, that there is a digital divide. Although Internet use last year surpassed 90 percent in Japanese between the ages of 13 through 49, it was less than 50 percent among people aged 65 or older. That is a major concern here. Roughly one in four Japanese will be 65 or older in 2015, and about one in three by 2050. That has already caused a labor shortage and revenue crunch because of the shrinking tax base. The government said the ongoing fusion between the communications and broadcasting industries will help support Japan's economic growth. Information and communication technology industries contributed to 40 percent of Japan's growth in 2004.
The heads of major information technology and telecommunications firms met at the Seoul Sheraton Walkerhill yesterday to discuss how this time, the revolution will be digitized. At the Seoul Digital Forum yesterday, delegates offered a host of forecasts for how the "digital revolution" could shape the future. Klaus Kleinfield, head of Siemens, said that technology has the potential to make life in cities more "liveable"; Nam Joong-soo, president of KT Corp., predicted that innovation and digital intelligence will enhance people's brainpower over the next decade, and Paul Jacobs, chief executive of Qualcomm, forecast other amalgamations of human and machine intelligence. Steven Ballmer, head of Microsoft Corp., asserted that most information will become digitized and that the pencil and paper will disappear. "Some people wonder whether the next 10 years will be as exciting and dynamic as the past 10 years," said Mr. Ballmer. "I predict [they'll be] even more so. Ten years from now, your computer will understand you and you will be able to get systems to cooperate in amazing ways." Mr. Kleinfield marveled at the pace of change over the past decade. "I cannot believe how it was when the world wasn't digital," he said.
Yet in the future, he added, digital solutions should be applied to make life better for city dwellers. "For the first time in history, we will have more people living in cities. We need to change things to make things more livable. For instance, telematics can make traffic more seamless or save power, since the planet suffers from vast issues of lack of energy," Mr. Kleinfield said. Mr. Jacobs said that in the future, it will not be access to information, but the notion of eliminating or preventing access to information that people will be interested in. Using the example of tracking devices on cell phones that enable, say, family members to keep track of your movements, Mr. Jacobs said that companies would be very interested in getting hold of such information. "This issue of privacy is going to be increasingly important to consumers," he said. On the other hand, advances in such personalized technology will open up more opportunities, especially in the healthcare sector. Pointing out that costs of healthcare are rising dramatically, Mr. Jacobs said that phones that can transmit medical data directly to your doctor mean money will be saved through less time spent in hospitals.
Mr. Kleinfield said that he personally wanted to see the healthcare sector more digitized because of his extensive travels abroad. "I would like an electronic patient record that doctors can access worldwide. My mother is 84 and I wish she could have [such a service]," he said. But Mr. Nam, from KT, pointed out that services must be made available and easy to use for everyone. "For instance, online real estate trading is becoming quite common, but the older generation needs to be educated to take advantage of this kind of service," he said.
Uzbek Agency of Communication and Informatisation (UzACI) hosted a seminar entitled the "Development of insurance relations in companies of communication and informatisation sphere" on 2 June. UzACI, Society of Radio-technology, Electronics and Scientific-technical Communication of Uzbeksitan, and ALSKOM, an Uzbek-Russian joint venture organised the event. The specialists of the central apparatus of UzACI, and representatives of the territorial departments, joint-stock companies, and other enterprises of the sphere of communication and informatisation, as well as mobile communication companies participated in the workshop. The aim of the meeting was to develop and improve insurance relations in the activity of info-communication entities. Deputy Director-General of UzACI Asad Hojaev opened the seminar. In his speech, he spoke about today's condition of insurance relations in the sphere, particularly focusing on the measures being taken and prospects of tasks being fulfilled to improve insurance relations in the sphere of ICT.
Director-General of ALSKOM insurance company Tahir Iminov made a report on the contemporary condition of the market of insurance services in Uzbekistan and a presentation on the activity of ALSKOM. In his report, he specifically noted that in terms of the growth dynamics ALSKOM by far exceeds the growth indicators of the national market of insurance services in general. In the course of the seminar, the specialists of ALSKOM spoke of the role and importance of insurance in provision of security and stability of activity in the sphere of info-communication, solution of problems arising when signing the contracts on insurance and considering insurance claims, as well as priority directions in the development of insurance relations n the sphere of communication and informatisation. Moreover, the representatives of a number of other companies operating in the sphere of ICT expressed their opinions and made suggestions on resolution of the issues arising in this direction in their companies.
The seventh Uzbek international exhibition "Telecommunication and information technologies - InfoComExpo 2006", place for demonstration of latest achievement of telecommunication sphere of Uzbekistan, will be held in Tashkent on 19-21 September. The largest international exhibition on telecommunication and information technologies in Uzbekistan will take place at Uzexpocentre. ITE Group Plc (Great Britain) and ITE Uzbekistan are organizers of the event. ITE Uzbekistan told UzReport.com that some 100 companies from 18 countries of the world will participate in the event this year. InfoComExpo 2006 will collect largest producers of systems and communication, information security, operators, producers of specialized equipment and software under one roof. ITE Uzbekistan said over 400 international companies, which assist to development of information-communication technologies in Uzbekistan, participated in the event since its foundation.
4th international conference "Central Asia 每 2006 每 Internet and library-information resources in science, education, culture and business" will be held in Urgench on 18-22 October. The event is aimed at activation of the activity of libraries, information-library resource centres, educational establishments and other organizations for effective and productive cooperation in deed of enhancement of Internet and electronic information resources application in the spheres of science, education, culture and business. The conference will cover such topics, as "Information resource centres. Issues of creation and development", "Electronic libraries in the field of science, technology, education, culture and business", "Electronic archives and funds of backup copies of archive documents", "Intranet and corporative technologies of operational information exchange", "Development of consortiums of libraries. International eIFL project", "New information technologies for new generation. Children's and school libraries", "Internet in libraries and library resources in the Internet", "Problems of access to electronic library-information resources", etc. The forum will pass in three languages simultaneously: Uzbek, English and Russian. Organisers of the event promise to ensure translation from English to Russian and Uzbek and vice versa. It is expected that an exhibition of publishing products on the conference themes on paper and electronic carriers will be held within the conference framework.
Leading Manila-based computer and technology firms belonging to the Computer Manufacturers, Distributors and Dealers Association of the Philippines (COMDDAP) will showcase the latest and widest array of information and communications technology (ICT) products, solutions, services and consumer electronics at COMDDAP Cebu 2006. The biggest biennial ICT exhibit and selling show in the Visayas returns to the Queen City of the South with ※I.T.＊s Happening in COMDDAP Cebu 2006!§ on June 22-24 at SM City Cebu Trade Halls. COMDDAP＊s three-day exhibit-sale is part of the celebration of Cebu Business Month and also its contribution to a series of ICT-related events spearheaded by the Commission on Information and Communications Technology Commission (CICT) in observing the National ICT month of June. ※Cebu has come a long way since 1994 when COMDDAP first staged its expo in the city, which was our first roadshow outside Manila in our effort to make ICT products and business solutions more accessible to our people,§ said COMDDAP President Juan Chua. Chua said Cebu has higher IT consciousness among individual consumers and companies, especially the small-to-medium scale businesses (SMB). ※COMDDAP reaffirms through this expo its faith in Cebu, one of the biggest IT markets outside Metro Manila, as a venue to shorten the distance for technology linkage and understanding between IT vendors and consumers. COMDDAP will continue to bring technology closer to more Filipinos through our regional shows,§ said Chua.
Industry leaders Canon Marketing Philippines, Inc. and Epson Philippines Corp., sponsors of the event, will lead 25 other exhibitor-companies in featuring the latest computer hardware, software and peripherals, a wide range of convergent technologies and consumer electronic products and gadgets at special prices and discounted rates for visitors. To better serve their technology needs and empower them to make the right choices, both enterprise and individual consumers can interact and consult with participating firms Astech Pengson Distributors, Inc., Banbros Commercial, Inc., Brother International Philippines Corp., CBX Corp., Chase Technologies Corp., CIM Technologies, Inc., Electroworld, Fast Net Development Corp., Fujitsu Philippines, Inc., Glee Electronics, Inc., Infonet Solutions, Inc., Innovista Technologies, Inc., Lamco International Trading Co., Lenton Marketing, MDR Microware Sales, Inc., Microdata Systems & Management, Inc., Microwarehouse/Linksys, Ng Khai Development Corp., PC Trends, Inc., PLDT, Redwood Ventures, Inc., Thinking Tools, Inc., Trinity Marketing, Inc. and Wordtext Systems, Inc. In 2004, the much-anticipated ICT expo attracted over 17,000 visitors, 83 percent of which were professionals from wholesale/retail, manufacturing and education sectors. The event surpassed both organizers and exhibitors＊ expectations in terms of onsite sales and positive business leads. This year, COMDDAP will use the three trade halls at the third level of SM City Cebu covering more than 1,800 square meters of exhibit space.
※Other than the huge visitor turnout, brisk exhibitor sales and higher IT awareness, COMDDAP Cebu will also continue to benefit the local ICT industry through increased networking, business opportunities and renewal of ties among distributors and resellers,§ said Jefferson Plaza, head of organizing committee. Plaza announced the holding of the ※Corporate Bowl Challenge§, a series of competitions for employees of companies located in Cebu＊s export processing zones and representatives of major industries. ※Teams of three members will compete in PC assembly and quiz rounds for the championship prize of P10,000 and another P10,000 for the winning team＊s chosen charitable institution. For details of the competition mechanics, log on to www.comddap.org.,§ said Plaza. Visitors to the exhibit-sale can also win special prizes during the daily raffle draws. Exhibit hours are from 10am to 9pm. Chase Technologies and PLDTmyDSL will sponsor the event＊s automated registration and broadband requirements, respectively. Meanwhile, Media G8Way Corp. will stage LinuxWorld Philippines 2006 covering various topics on free/open source solutions. ※Cebuanos, especially educators, entrepreneurs, professionals and students, will once more learn from ICT experts both here and abroad when they converge at COMDDAP Cebu 2006,§ said Plaza.
Spring Singapore has launched a guide for small and medium-sized enterprises aimed at helping them derive the maximum benefits from infocomm technology. This guide will be available on its website at www.spring.gov.sg. According to a recent survey by the Infocomm Development Authority, some SMEs are still reluctant to adopt new information technology partly because of the costs involved. But Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Dr Vivian Balakrishnan says infocomm technology can help companies achieve that much-needed competitive edge. Investing in infocomm technology may be costly but all companies should consider this as an investment that will create value for their organisations. Speaking at the 10th Infocomm Commerce Conference organised by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Infocomm Development Authority, Dr Balakrishnan notes that some companies do not yet have broadband connectivity. He says: "If you look at the prices of broadband access over just the last 2 to 3 months you find that it has come down significantly. It's worth thinking about it this way. One year's worth of broadband subscription today costs no more than for example a high-end Chinese diner with sharks fin and abalone. And from time to time we all share that delicacy, so I'm making the point - take one dinner and get yourself onto the internet highway."
According to the IDA, about 77 percent of companies in Singapore use infocomm appliances such as computers and workstations, and access the Internet. Slightly over half, or 55 percent, of businesses make use of broadband. It is implementing several projects to help raise these figures under the umbrella of its iN2015 plan to make Singapore a wireless and connected island. One of them is the Infocomm Enterprise Programme which gives businesses grants to apply IT in an innovative way. IDA has so far given out one grant to a company in the healthcare sector. The government is also extending its web services to the private sector. Currently, user information from several government web services, including ACRA, URA and HDB, is being pooled in a central database. By the end of the year, several more government web services - such as the Singapore Land Authority - will be added to this list, so that time spent filling out forms online can be cut down. Chan Yeng Kit, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, said: "If you're a private company, say an insurance company, instead of getting the company to re-type its particulars, where its residential address is and all that, it can actually call, pull it down from our databases."
PALA and Install Asia 2006 will be held on July 20-22 at Royal Paragon Hall, 5th floor, Siam Paragon. The event highlights include a Smart Home Installation Area, Digital Studio Showcase, Station PALA Powered By Gen-X Academy and a large LED screen - 6 metres x 3 metres - which will be displaying live feeds of show activities from the three exhibition halls, beamed onto the screen in realtime.
TRAINING National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec) will hold a series of training courses as follows:
- PC Cloning & Data Backup on July 21
Information: Khun Samanya at 02-642-5001-10 ext. 123, fax: 02-642-5014 or web site http://www.nectec.or.th/ite.
ACIS Professional Centre will hold a training course on Intrusion and Log Analysis In-depth on July 24-26
- 3D World with 3D Animation on July 19
Information: 02-654-4900 ext. 102, 104, 107, 114 or email: email@example.com
The Minister for Science and Information and Communication Technology of Bangladesh, Dr Moyeen Khan, stated that Bangladesh has limited resources but unlimited talents and it is possible to face the developed countries through the proper use of this. While addressing a seminar, organised by the Faculty of Business Administration of Eastern University, on 'Convergent Media: The Impact of New Media Technology on society' at the Auditorium of Russian Culture Centre, he said that the western countries are imposing supremacy over the globe through the discovery of improved technologies. He hoped that the advantages of technologies, like Internet and computer, would reach all the people of the country soon. The Vice-Chancellor of Eastern University, Prof Dr Rahim B Talukder chaired the function, and Dr Sirajul Islam Bhuiyan presented keynote paper. Chairman of the university Abul Kashem Haider, Adviser of ATN Bangla Saiful Bari, Journalist Gias Kamal Chowdhury, Prof Dr Golam Rahman and Prof Dr Sakhawat Ali Khan addressed the seminar. The speakers mentioned that the impact of new technologies, including Internet, cell phone, computer and satellite television, have spread out to every nook and corner of the country.
SWABI, Aug 15: Workshops on high performance computing and related topics held with the help of scholars and experts in industries will help develop computational mechanics design capabilities to solve the problems facing research and industrial sectors.This was stated by experts on the concluding day of a five-day workshop on ※High Performance Computing§ in Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology on Friday.The workshop was organised by the GIK Institute in collaboration with the University of Illinois, Chicago. Experts in high performance computing provided hands- on training on different topics, including parallel computing issues, Linux operating system environment and Beowulf cluster, message passing interface (MPI), open message passing standards, shared memory programming and advanced parallel computing techniques to the participants. Dr Ashfaq A. Khokhar of the University of Illinois said that it was the beginning and in future such workshops would be organized to train resources from academia, research and industrial organizations. He said that the GIK Institute could lead Pakistan in the field of high performance computing. The Rector of GIK Institute, Dr Abdullah Sadiq, said that the workshop was a significant milestone in improving the computational mechanics capabilities. He said there was a dire need to organize such workshops within the country and with the collaboration of partners from developed countries. ※We must broaden collaboration and interaction,§ he said.
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, has welcomed the release of two new reports on IT security governance and denial of service (DoS) attacks. ※Corporate leaders are facing major challenges around IT security as their use of converging technologies increases,§ Senator Coonan said. ※ This rapidly changing environment means IT security must be part of any business＊s mainstream corporate governance. It must be viewed as a business decision and not simply an IT decision. ※These new reports provide business executives with essential information about effective risk mitigation measures and business management strategies to address IT security issues.§ The reports, Leading Practices and Guidelines for Enterprise Security Governance and Managing DoS Attacks were developed by the Information Technology Security Expert Advisory Group, a part of the Attorney General＊s-led Trusted Information Sharing Network. DoS attacks prevent legitimate access to a computer or to information services such as e-mail, web sites or online accounts. ※They are a serious issue as a concerted attack could lead to major disruption of services, particularly in sectors such as financial services which exchange large volumes of data,§ Minister Coonan said. Although primarily developed for critical infrastructure sectors, the advice is also of relevance to large organisations in business and government. In addition to the two main reports, executive summaries have been produced for Chief Executive Officers and Chief Information Officers. These versions include strategies and practical tools to assist senior executives and information officers in addressing IT security issues.
VICTORIANS have flocked to convert to LPG with the automotive industry recording a surge in demand, but waiting times are ballooning because of a shortage of mechanics. More than 10,000 people have called a Government hotline set up after last week's announcement of a Commonwealth subsidy of up to $2000 for car owners to covert from petrol to LPG or buy new LPG cars, with Victorians accounting for a quarter of callers. LPG Australia industry development manager Phil Westlake said the policy announcement had doubled demand overnight. "The autogas industry is predicting that the number of conversion and new LPG vehicles sold will more than double in the next 12 months," Mr Westlake said. The surge has resulted in lengthly waiting periods for motorists eager to convert. Steve Henderson, the owner of Auzgas, a conversion workshop in Bayswater, said his waiting list had blown out from four weeks to eight months. Mr Henderson said there had been a nationwide shortage of LPG mechanics after a slump in the industry in the late 1990s.
He said there was also concern that parts needed for conversions would become scarce. Australia's two leading LPG tank suppliers are planning to increase production of their tanks by 50 per cent before the end of the year to meet demand. Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce division manager Jim Richards said Victoria had traditionally accounted for half the autogas market and half of all conversions were done in Victoria. Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said Australians were paying five to 10 cents a litre more for their petrol because of the Iraq war. He said research by Nobel prize-winning economist Joe Stiglitz revealed that the war had pushed the price of oil up by between $US5 and $US10 a barrel since the 2003 invasion. But Prime Minister John Howard said the cause was "the surge in world demand driven overwhelmingly by China".