Summer 2013 Issue 42

 

Special Focus |  Policy and Legislation |  e-Government |  e-Commerce |  e-Society |  e-Security |  ICT Development

 


Contact Us: unpan-ap@sass.org.cn

 

 Civic Engagement in the Digital Age

 Cybersecurity Challenges in 2013

 AFRICA: Kenya - Launching National ICT Master Plan

 ASIA: China Mulls Online Shopping Legislation

 Singapore Tops International E-Government Rankings

 Thailand’s Smart City Steps Up Network Progress

 India Launching National Cloud Initiative

 Azerbaijan Sees Virtualization Technology Boom: Expert

 Australia: Public-Private Partnership a Challenge for Cybercrime Centers

 NORTH AMERICA: U.S. - How to Improve Government-to-Citizen Communication

 

 

 

 Unesco Adopts Open Access Policy
 ANZ: ICT Strategies Take Centre Stage
 African Union Commission Makes ICT Priority Project

 African Countries Implement Child Online Protection Initiative

 KENYA: Launching National ICT Master Plan

 TANZANIA: To Draft New ICT Laws

 EU: Brussels Under Pressure to Soften Data Protection Rules

 Europe's Broken Telecom Policy

 European Commission Plans Guide Through Global Internet Policy Labyrinth

 FINLAND: An IT Nation Plans for the Future, Somewhere Between Openness and Privacy

 RUSSIA: Ratifying Personal Data Protection “Convention 108”

 UK: National Cyber Crime Unit in October; Communications Data Bill Confirmed
 LATIN AMERICA: Cuba Approves Internet Domain Rules

 NORTH AMERICA: Canada 9th in Cloud Regulations - Industry Group

 U.S.: Coming in March - Biggest Fed IT Acquisition Overhaul Plan Since 1996

 Digital Government Strategy – Mobile Device Management

 CIO Council Harnessing Growing List of 'World Class' IT Programs

 4 U.S. Internet Laws You Should Know

 California Technology Agency to Release IT Procurement Strategy

 Oversight Committee Passes IT Reform Act, Giving CIOs Budget Authority

 Alabama Gov. Signs Legislation to Streamline State IT

 US Senate Passes Internet Sales Tax Proposal

 US Congress Panel Approves Internet Freedom Bill

 House Approves FISMA Modernization Bill, Two Other Cyber Bills

 Many CIOs Support IT Reform Legislation

 

 

 CHINA: New National Legislature Sees More Diversity

 Plan to Grow Broadband Users
 Online Info Rules Help Promote Social Harmony

 Nation Set to Expand Smart Cities Project

 Draft Rule on Protecting Personal Data Gets Push

 China Mulls Online Shopping Legislation

 China Clarifies Law to Crackdown on Blackmail

 JAPAN: Govt Considers Bill to Protect Natl Secrets
 Diet Enacts Bill Allowing Online Campaigning in Elections

 

 

 INDONESIA: Govt Urged to Uphold Human Rights in Regulating Internet

 PHILIPPINES: City Improves Land Use Plan with GIS

 RFID to Be Used in ‘Smarter Philippines’ Programme

 The Philippines Beefs Up E-Budgeting System

 The Philippines Seeks IT-Based Proposals to Solve Transport Woes

 SINGAPORE: Plan to Double Speed of Free WIFI

 ICT Enabled Work-from-home Pilot Launched in Singapore

 Master Plan to Develop Singapore into Global IP Hub

 Singapore Government's Open Data Enable App Development

 Singapore Outlines Govt ICT Spending Priorities

 THAILAND: Digital Radio Mulled for 2013

 Thailand to Set Up New Mapping Database

 VIETNAM: City to Launch Smart Transport Management System

 Vietnam Local Government Highlights Importance of IT Standards  

 Vietnam to Modernise Population Management Systems

 

 

 INDIA: Launching National Cloud Initiative

 BSNL Launches Project to Connect NE

 MALDIVES: Govt Decides to Compile a SIM Card User Policy

 NEPAL: Govt Forms Committee to Recommend Online Media Regulations

 

 

 AZERBAIJAN: Communications Ministry to Support 'Electronic Village' Project

 Azerbaijan Approves ICT Action Plan

 IT-Projects’ Concessional Financing Conditions Defined in Azerbaijan

 ICT Financing Rules Approved in Azerbaijan

 Azerbaijan Extends Broadband Internet Project Until 2017

 Draft E-Gov Program for 2013-2015 Developed in Azerbaijan

 Azerbaijani Government Drafting New ICT Bill

 

 

 AUSTRALIA: New Standards Impose Rigorous Process for E-Waste Disposal

 Queensland Government Sheds Light on ICT Priorities

 Australia Joins Convention on Cybercrime Treaty

 South Australia Unveils New ICT Roadmap

 NEW ZEALAND: To Deploy Cloud Computing Services

 New Zealand Launches New Version of Budget App

 

 

 

 The Open E-Government Strategy for Cities

 Civic Engagement in the Digital Age

 AFRICA: E-Government - Is EA Ready for E-Govt Infrastructure?

 GHANA: IT Agency Collaborates with Microsoft on E-Government

 ZIMBABWE: E-Government Way to Improve Service Delivery

 Zimbabwe: Local Authorities Urged to Embrace ICT, E-Government

 EUROPE: Bulgaria Launches Brand New E-Government Ministry

 Bulgaria: Major Egovernment Project Makes Significant Progress

 BELARUS: E-Government to Be Launched

 GERMANY: The National Govdata Portal Now Online

 ESTONIA: Leading Way with E-Government

 The Government of the Republic of Moldova Has Won the International Prize BEST Mgovernment

 POLAND: Post Seeks Central Role in E-Government Services

 UKRAINE: A Decade on, E-Government Is Still on Paper

 UK Signs E-Government Pact with Estonia

 NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Federal Budget Cuts Undermining Access-to-Information System - Watchdog

 How Large IT Departments Waste Time and Effort

 JAMAICA: E-Government Initiative Moving Ahead

 U.S.: New York Launches Open Data Portal

 How to Improve Government-to-Citizen Communication

 

 

 CHINA: Has Over 170,000 Government Microblogs

 JAPAN: To Launch National Open Data Portal

 Science & ICT Ministry Strives to Create Jobs, New Industries

 IT Educational Council to Be Set Up in Japan

 S. KOREA: Gov’t to Open Big Data Center

 

 

 INDONESIA: Jakarta to Roll Out E-Application System for Building Permits

 Indonesia’s President Joins Twitter, Attracts 1 Mil Followers

 Indonesian City Police Urged to Use Twitter and Facebook

 E-Voting Simulations Conducted in Indonesian Elections

 MALAYSIA: Expanding E-Procurement Service

 PHILIPPINES: To Standardise Template of Government Websites

 The Philippines to Enhance E-Procurement System

 Philippine Agriculture Department Boosts Transparency with Open Data Portal

 Philippine Province Introduces Electronic Filing and Payment System

 SINGAPORE: Tops International E-Government Rankings

 Mobile Mental Health Outreach Team to Be Set Up in July

 Singapore's ICT Authority Changes Leadership

 THAILAND: To Launch Mobile App for Income Tax Submission

 VIETNAM: HCM City Funds Updates for Government IT Infrastructure

 

 

 INDIA: Kerala to Complete E-Gov Projects by March CM

 Goa Police Decide to Install CCTNS

 Integrated Systems for Better E-Gov Experts

 Kerala Integrates E-Payment with E-Procurement

 Jammu and Kashmir Gets SDC for Supporting E-Governance Initiatives

 E-Voting Should Be Regular Practice

 Setting New Milestones in E-Governance

 Online Mechanism for Single Window Clearance to Be Set Up Soon

 PAKISTAN: IT Ministry to Acquire Google Services

 

 

 AZERBAIJAN: Developing New E-Government Program

 Azerbaijan’s Communication Ministry Signs Grant Agreement in E-Government Project

 Taxes Ministry to Simplify Submission of E-Declarations

 Azerbaijan Shifting from Electronic to Mobile Government

 Azerbaijan Hosts Int'l Conference on E-Government in Customs Sector

 

 

 AUSTRALIA: Government Flags Further IT Cuts

 AEC Seeks E-Voting System

 Australian Budget 2013: IT System Tweaks, Expansions, and New Centres

 NEW ZEALAND: Kiwis Choose Online Option for Census 2013

 New Zealand Fast-Tracks Citizen Engagement Reforms

 

 

 

 World Spent $3.6 TREEELLION on ICT in 2012 - Analyst

 IT Outsourcing Market Slumps to 10-year Low

 Asia Pacific Telecom Transiting from Voice to Mobile Internet-Access Services

 APEC-Wide Deal on E-Commerce Tax Avoidance Proposed

 Asia Pacific IT Spending to Reach US$740bil

 Asia Pacific Leads Worldwide Mobile Phone Sales Growth in 1Q13, Says Gartner

 AFRICA: Nigeria Invests $1 Billion in New ICT Incubation Centres

 EUROPE: Czech Republic - Highest Internet Retail Sales in 26 Months

 New UK Ecommerce Report Helps Retailers Optimise Order Acceptance

 Room for Improvement in the e-Commerce Fraud Detection Process

 UNCTAD Latin America Workshop on ICT in Enterprises Survey Module

 BRAZIL: E-Commerce Grosses More Than $11 Billion in 2012

 NORTH AMERICA: Ecommerce Sales to Rise in US

 The Fastest Growing Industries in America Are Ecommerce and Environmental Consulting

 Most Data Isn’t 'Big,' and Businesses Are Wasting Money Pretending It Is

 

 

 China, South Korea Lead World Mobile Commerce

 China’s Online Sales Surge in 2012

 China's 1st Online Land Auction Nets 159 Mln Yuan 

 E-commerce Takes a Big Toll

 Firms Map Out Voice Navigation Services

 Web China: Draft Amendment Sparks Debate Over Online Shoppers' Rights

 China Focus: Ten-year-old Taobao Shaping Chinese Lifestyles

 China's Internet Giants in Acquisition Spree

 E-commerce Giants Brace for Fierce Competition

 JAPAN: E-Commerce Growth Continues

 App to Help Visually Impaired with Currency to Be Launched in Japan
 New Digital Divide Threatens Economic Growth
 S. KOREA: E-Commerce Sales Hit All-Time High in 2012

 KDB's 'Techno Banking' Draws Interest from SMEs

 B2B Fuels South Korea E-Commerce

 

 

 INDONESIA: E-Commerce, Banks Synergize in Driving Online Business

 MYANMAR: To Introduce E-Payment Card in Foreign Countries

 PHILIPPINES: Government Bank to Launch E-Payment Channel for Household Workers

 

 

 INDIA: Maharashtra Farmers Sell Products Online

 E-Payment for Scholarships Soon

 E-Payment of Road Tax in Haryana

 eBiz Portal to Ease G2B Services

 SRI LANKA: SME Apparel Exporters Are to Be Linked to Global E-System

 PAKISTAN: Mobile Banking with 1.4mn Accounts Showing Remarkable Surge

 

 

 AZERBAIJAN: Timing Announced for Commercial Sale of First Satellite's Resources to Foreign Markets

 Number of E-Signature Holders Nearly Doubled by March

 Romanian Company Intends to Cooperate with Azerbaijan in ICT

 Azerbaijan May Lift VAT from Non-Cash Payments

 KAZAKHSTAN: 2 Million E-Signatures Issued

 

 

 APEC-Wide Deal on E-Commerce Tax Avoidance Proposed

 AUSTRALIA: Many Companies Risk Missing the Internet Wave

 ACCC Launches Online Education Program for Small Business

 Australian State Launches Website for Indigenous Businesses

 Australia's Data and Messaging Revenues Exceeds Voice for the First Time

 Federal Budget Positive for ICT Industry

 NEW ZEALAND: Telecom Unveils Ultrafast Broadband for Consumers

 Small Businesses Still Sluggish Online

 New Zealand Starts Consultation on 4G Spectrum Auction

 

 

 

 Country-Specific Climate Vulnerability Data Now Online

 Study: Mobile Users & Older Generations Are Driving Social Media Growth Around the World

 EUROPE: Bulgaria’s E-Government Minister to Launch E-Recycling Campaign

 UK: 4G Mobile Broadband Coverage Extends to 50pc

 NORTH AMERICA: Largest U.S. Municipal Utility Deploys Advanced Smart Grid Network

 Federal CIO Calls for Government-Wide 'IT as a Service'

 National Digital Public Library Launches

 Social Network for Emergencies to Launch in San Francisco 

 How Twitter Is Changing the Geography of Communication

 

 

 CHINA: Over 100m Use China's Own 3G System

 China Seeks Greater Cybercooperation

 Users May Pay Fee to Use WeChat App

 440 Bln Credit Line for Building Smart Cities

 Project to Add Users and Raise Web Speed

 China's Internet Speed Averages 3.14 MBps

 JAPAN: Enhancing Astronomical Observatory with Supercomputer

 Japan Improves Bidding Processes with IT

 Apps Convert Smartphones into Home Monitoring System

 Japanese University to Deploy Supercomputer

 S. KOREA: Fine on 'Excessive' Exposure Causes Online Stir

 The Socially Underprivileged Are Also Alienated from Information Access

 Gov't Demonstrates Smart Highway

 South Korea Uses Video Collaboration Tools for Disaster Management

 MSIT Poised to Revamp Korea’s Online Search Service System

 

 

 MALAYSIA: Launching GIS Portal for Youth Welfare and Development

 PHILIPPINES: Kindergarten Students Taught ICT in City

 Philippine Province Launches Eservices Facility

 The Philippines Expands ‘Wireless Access for Health’ Programme

 The Philippines to Enhance R&D Capabilities with Supercomputer

 SINGAPORE: New Mobile App to Help Stroke Patients, Doctors

 Singapore to Install CCTVs to Control Parking

 Singapore Polyclinics Launches Mobile App for Asthma Care

 New Homes in Singapore to Be Pre-Wired with Optical Fibre

 Improving Library Services in Singapore with ICT - Part I

 Improving Library Services in Singapore with ICT - Part II

 THAILAND: A Flurry of Activity as 3G Launch Looms

 Thailand Govt to Install Wi-Fi at Historical Parks

 Thailand to Cover 27,231 Schools with Internet

 Thailand’s City Municipality Provides 1,000 Hot Spots for Free Wi-Fi

 Thailand to Deliver Payment Services to Home

 Thailand Shares Satellite Data for Agricultural Use

 Thai Hospitals Introduce Healthcare Apps

 Thailand Launches Voice Recognition App for Traffic Data

 Thai Air Force and ICT Ministry Collaborate on Disaster Management

 VIETNAM: To Replace Analogue TV with Digital One by 2020

 

 

 BANGLADESH: Dhaka Issues Smart Cards for Workers in S Arabia

 INDIA: Majority of Children Online to Be from India in 2017
 Free Electricity Connections in SC, ST & BPL Households

 New Bus Tracking System Unveiled

 Wi-Fi on Howrah Rajdhani

 Mobile App for Indira Gandhi International Airport

 Aadhaar Card Can Be Used as ID Proof

 Cloud Campus by NIIT

 Complaint Cell for Women

 SRI LANKA: Launching First South Asian 4G Mobile Service

 Srilankan Airlines Introduces Self- Service Check-In Kiosks

 MALDIVES: Establishing Passenger Information System

 

 

 AZERBAIJAN: ICT Services Worth $300m Provided to Population in Two Months

 Mobile ID Codes Registration to Begin in May

 E-Signature Is Now Available at Post Offices of Azerbaijan

 Minister: Azerbaijan Launched E-Visas Issuing Procedure

 High-Tech Park Construction Starts in Azerbaijan

 Registration of Mobile Phone Codes to Be Available Online

 Program on Education System Informatisation to Be Applied in Azerbaijan

 Issuance of Mobile Digital Signatures Starts in Azerbaijan

 KAZAKHSTAN: Foreigners Arriving Can Be Registered Online

 Railway E-Tickets to Be Introduced in Kazakhstan

 

 

 UNESCO Explores Mobile Tech in Education
 AUSTRALIA: City Police Connect with Citizens Online

 Australia Leverages Robotics Technology for Education

 Australian State Engaging Citizens Online

 Australian Council Launches App for Fire Inspections

 Australian Council Uncovers Environmental Icon with GIS

 Australia Leverages Advanced GIS to Create National Soil Database

 FIJI: E-ticketing Compulsory for All Buses

 NEW ZEALAND: Online Census Proves Popular

 NZ University to Modernise Campus Network

 

 

 

 Security Remains a Top investment Priority for IT amid Mobile Workplace Evolution

 Cybersecurity Challenges in 2013

 World Bank Support to Build Safety Nets in Low-Income Countries

 58% Information Security Incidents Attributed to Insider Threat

 Cyberthreats Pose Unsettling Cyber-Consequences

 Global Network of Hackers Steals $45M from ATMs

 Cyberdefense a Major Part of Asian Security

 EUROPE: Cyber Attackers Continue to Target Czech Sites

 SPAIN: To Welcome the New Industrial Cybersecurity Center

 NORTH AMERICA: Canada - International Experts to Debate How Nations Can Tackle Cyber Threats

 U.S.: How Many Cyberattacks Hit the United States Last Year?

 Agency Cybersecurity Deficiencies Remain as Attacks Reach All-time High

 Cyberspace Becoming a Conflict Zone Says Ex-U.S. Official

 Government Launches New Cybercrime Fighting Unit

 The Future of Data Security

 Special Report - IT Tools for Safer Communities

 US, Russia Are Top Cyber-Threat Hosts

 CIO Council Releases Data on Federal Cybersecurity Workforce

 Targeted Cyberespionage on the Rise in 2012

 Feds Seek Stronger Cybersecurity Partnerships with States

 Is an Emphasis on Compliance Hampering IT Security?

 California Launches Cybersecurity Task Force

 

 

 CHINA: To Ensure Online Payment Safety

 Cyber Attack Battlefield: The Clash of Victimhood

 Cooperation 'Needed for Internet Security'

 China Waging War Against Online Rumors

 Informant Webpages Help Gather Corruption Tip-offs

 Disclosure Delays Help Fuel Online Rumors

 JAPAN: Police Better Prepared to Fight Cyberattacks

 S. KOREA: Presidential Cyber Security Secretary Eyed to Counter Hacking

 Defense Ministry to Beef Up Cybersecurity Forces

 Korean News Site Hacked, Delivers Malware

 The Cyber Terror on March 20 and Its Countermeasures

 Moves to Toughen Korea’s Online Transaction Security System

 Threat of Malicious Code Growing in S. Korea

 NORTH KOREA: New Cash Cow - Cyber-warfare

 

 

 MYANMAR: Facebook Used to Stir Up Rumours, Spark Conflict

 M'sian, Filipino Hackers Go to War in Cyberspace Over Sabah

 SINGAPORE: Studying Measures to Restrict Access to Online Gambling Sites

 THAILAND: To Reform Cyber-Crime Law

 Symantec Internet Security Threat Report Reveals Increase in Cyber-Espionage

 

 

 INDIA: To Unveil Cyber Security Policy Soon
 SEBI to Watch Over BBM and WhatsApp

 KSITM Launches New System to Trace Undelivered Aadhaar Cards

 

 

 AZERBAIJAN: Brands Expected to Protect Domain Names on Their Own

 Azerbaijan to Bolster Cyber Security

 Azerbaijan Joins International Anti-Phishing Efforts

 Azerbaijan, ITU Join Effort to Draft New Convention on Information Security

 

 

 AUSTRALIA: Govt Doesn't Keep Cybersafety Button Source Code

 Public-Private Partnership a Challenge for Cybercrime Centers

 NEW ZEALAND: Cyber Security Fears Rising

 IT Industry Backs Software Patent Change

 New Zealand Spotlights Cybersecurity Reforms at Futuregov Forum

 

 

 

 The Best (and Worst) Countries for Cloud Computing

 10 Countries with World's Fastest Internet

 Global Information Technology Report 2013

 Global Mobile Subscriptions Reach 6.3 Billion in 2012 

 Asia's Mobile Revolution Is Changing the Way You Do Business

 An Information-Communication Revolution in the Pacific

 AFRICA: Rwanda - Public Officials Need ICT Training, Not Just Sensitization

 2013 Europe Digital Future in Focus

 EU's IT Agency's Sets Up in Estonia

 Top 5 Technology Transfers from E-estonia

 NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Open Data Is a '21st Century Natural Resource'

 U.S.: Ranking the Top 10 Cloud Startups

 The Real Data Center Revolution

 The Internet of Everything Emerges

 Industry Perspective - Cloud and the Smart City 

 

 

 CHINA: Mobile Fair May Boost Chinese Handsets

 Technology Faces Up to a Question of Identity

 Sophisticated 3-D Becoming More Affordable

 JAPAN: Communications Seeks Help in Interconnection Dispute

 SOUTH KOREA: Tackling Big Data in Weather Forecasting

 Gov’t to Bolster Robot Industry

 

 

 MYANMAR: To Improve Competitiveness with ICT

 PHILIPPINES: Signing ICT Agreement with Spain

 SINGAPORE: Driving Innovation with Open Source

 THAILAND: Smart City Steps Up Network Progress

 Thailand Optimises Investigations with Big Data Analytics

 VIETNAM: City Needs More Human Resources in IT Sector

 

 

 INDIA: Andhra to Have National Institute of Electronics & IT

 NIIT Technologies Launches CCTNS Project in Odisha

 ICT to Promote Eco-Friendly Tools in Agriculture

 Strengthening the Cooperative Movement Through ICT

 Land Record Software Developed by Goa Government Wins International Award

 Dialog Sri Lanka Mobile Broadband Base Grows 44-Pct

 NEPAL: ICT Expo from April 9

 PAKISTAN: Computers & IT Playing Key Role in Every Field

 Mobile Phone Users Make Over 192.9bn Minutes Voice Calls Per Year

 Mobile Phone Penetration Showing 10.3pc Healthy Growth

 80pc of Mobile Subscribers Will Be in Developing Countries by 2017

 Inauguration of IT Center for Hujjaj on May 13

 

 

 AZERBAIJAN: Broadband Access Rate Up Over 20 Percent

 Azerbaijan Aimed at Serious Development ICT Sector

 ICT Sector’s Share in Azerbaijan’s GDP Hits 1.8 Pct

 Minister: ICT Sector’s Revenues to Grow to $8-8.5 Billion in Azerbaijan by 2020

 Azerbaijan Expects ICT Export Growth

 Azerbaijan Sees Virtualization Technology Boom: Expert

 State ICT Fund to Finance Start-Ups Soon

 Number of Broadband Internet Connections in Baku to Hit 400,000 by Year-End

 SOFAZ: Azerbaijan to Carry Out Reforms on Broadband Internet Development

 KAZAKHSTAN: Entering Top 50 Countries in Network Readiness and Cellular Communication Rates Index

 

 

 AUSTRALIA: Beat Most of the World in Preparation for Cloud Adoption

 Feds Award $300m Less in ICT Product Contracts

 Shrinking Performance Gap Between Australian Mobile Networks

 NEW ZEALAND: Losing Ground in Global Tech Rankings

 Growing Funding Network Gives Support to Tech Start-Ups

 New Zealand's Demand for Mobile Data Doubles for Second Year in a Row

 

 

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Civic Engagement in the Digital Age

 

Social networking sites have grown more important in recent years as a venue for political involvement, learning, and debate. Overall, 39% of all American adults took part in some sort of political activity on a social networking site during the 2012 campaign. This means that more Americans are now politically active on social networking sites (SNS) than used them at all as recently as the 2008 election campaign. At that point, 26% of the population used a social networking site of any kind. The growth in several specific behaviors between 2008 and 2012 illustrates the increasing importance of SNS as places where citizens can connect with political causes and issues:

•In 2012, 17% of all adults posted links to political stories or articles on social networking sites, and 19% posted other types of political content. That is a six-fold increase from the 3% of adults who posted political stories or links on these sites in 2008.

•In 2012, 12% of all adults followed or friended a political candidate or other political figure on a social networking site, and 12% belonged to a group on a social networking site involved in advancing a political or social issue. That is a four-fold increase from the 3% of adults who took part in these behaviors in 2008. Read or download the full report: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Civic-Engagement.aspx

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 04/29/2013

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Cybersecurity Challenges in 2013

 

Network World (US)Tweet The security issues affecting businesses are similar around the world. Most involve employees innocently bringing an infected personal mobile device into the corporate network, or clicking on a social media link that looks harmless but hides a Trojan or worm that will secretly steal data and money and, potentially, remain undetected with severe impact on security of the infected device. The security issues affecting businesses are similar around the world. Most involve employees innocently bringing an infected personal mobile device into the corporate network, or clicking on a social media link that looks harmless but hides a Trojan or worm that will secretly steal data and money and, potentially, remain undetected with severe impact on security of the infected device. And while this this year will see more of that, we will also see major cybersecurity challenges to businesses coming from an increase in exploit kits, an increase in mobile device cybersecurity threats, and more sophisticated threats in general. Let's dive deeper: - Increase in exploit kits: Exploit kits represent the dark but massively profitable side of cybersecurity attacks. Exploit kits comprise malicious programs. They quickly identify and then attack cyber vulnerabilities and spread malware.

 

Exploit kits are created, sold and rented on the black market. We predict they will be increasingly used because of their ease of deployment (rental model) and ease and speed of infection they deliver. The impact of these attacks will be felt in loss of data, IP, identify theft, financial fraud and theft, as well as in diminished business productivity and continuity. We expect to see exploit kits targeting Windows 8, Mac OS X and mobile devices, particularly Android-based, in 2013 as these three targets represent fast-growing segments used by corporates and consumers alike to transact communications, business and commerce. The growth of malware will continue at an explosive pace. In 2012, Dell SonicWALL identified nearly 16 million unique malware samples through its GRID (Global Response Intelligent Defense system) compared to 13.5 million in year 2011. Already, there are around 44,000 new malware samples every day. - Increase in mobile cybersecurity vulnerability: The adoption of near field communication technology for mobile payment systems makes mobile platforms an attractive target for financially motivated cybercrimes. And the increased use of personal devices in businesses -- thanks to trends like BYOD (bring your own device) -- creates entirely new cybersecurity issues, from loss of company data and IP, to financial threat and non-compliance issues, to name a few. As social media continues to be adopted universally for personal and business purposes alike, malware will increase dramatically across Facebook, Twitter and Skype in 2013. This triple threat threatens targeted mobile devices at the point of commerce, through their access to corporate networks and through their access to social media channels. It will be particularly dangerous and become more advanced and prevalent. [Also see: "Who owns that Twitter account?"]

 

- Increase in sophistication of cyberattacks: Last year we saw cybercriminals abandon older scareware methods such as fake antivirus scams and move over to ransomware scams. We expect to see this continue and become more global and multilingual, which also represents a growing threat to Latin Ameria. Ransomware attacks lock down a computer, device or service and holds the data hostage, or even threatens court action if the user does not pay. These are very devious attacks that are embedded deep into the computer or device and it is nearly impossible for an average user to regain control over his own system and data. The sophistication and ability to attack and paralyze websites will continue to grow at dramatic pace. For example in 2011, there were 1,596,905 DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks compared to 120,321,372 in 2012. As businesses of all sizes continue to move services and infrastructure to the cloud, the issue of DDoS will be high on many agendas at it has the potential to quickly cripple entire cloud infrastructures. Viruses, trojans, worms and ransomware do not differentiate between a large or small business. They represent the same risk, no matter if you have a lot or only very little budget to invest in network security. Irrespective of the size of your business, these threats can mean loss of profitability and productivity, loss of data and financial assets, and potentially catastrophic loss of business continuity. It is likely that small businesses are more likely to fall pretty to these attacks, because they do not have the budget, IT infrastructure or support that a large business can afford. On the other hand, the more people a business employs, the greater the vulnerability of its network.

 

Steps to take

The most important steps for a business of any size to protect itself from cyberattacks is to be aware of the most obvious and dangerous variants. Second, it is key to educate employees how to recognize and avoid accidentally bringing a virus/malware/trojan into the corporate network. A recent survey by Dell SonicWALL customers shows that 68% of all businesses reported that employees cannot identify fraudulent attacks on the corporate network. It is the dirty little secret of the beautiful world of social networks and mobile device interconnectedness that they are a breeding ground for malware and Internet criminals. Many businesses believe their existing firewalls will protect them from an attack. The reality, however, is that old firewalls pose a serious security risk to organizations today. First-generation firewalls technology has become obsolete as it fails to inspect the data payload of network packets circulated by today's Internet criminals. To prepare and protect from the massive growth in social media, applications, BYOD and multi-media files flowing through a corporate network, entirely new technology is needed. It is today's next-generation firewalls that include advanced technology such as application intelligence and control, intrusion prevention, malware protection and SSL inspection at multi-gigabit speeds, scalable to support the highest-performance networks and protect them effectively from the modern threats every user of email or the Internet encounters on a daily basis. If an organization does business anywhere on the Internet, it is likely not a question of if, but when it will be targeted by cybercriminals. While no protection is ever perfect, there is much that business can do to minimize and deflect the impact of these potential threats. Especially, the IT organization should closely collaborate with the company leadership to identify vulnerabilities lie, prepare with appropriate countermeasures including advanced high-performance, high-redundancy network security components, and educate employees for the best possible defense and protection of business assets.

From http://news.idg.no/ 03/08/2013

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AFRICA: Kenya - Launching National ICT Master Plan

 

Kenya mid February launched the National ICT Master Plan, a strategy document that will guide the country's ICT direction in the next five years. Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication says that the country aims to be a Knowledge Economy by 2017. He was speaking at the Kenya ICT Board(KICTB) organised function at the Sarova Stanley in Nairobi. The function was attended by a cross section of ICT stakeholders. Notably present was Micah Cheserem, the chair of the Commision on Revenue Allocation, Mr. Francis W. Wangusi, CCK Director General and John Sergon, ICT Director-Directorate of e-Government, ICT is expected to contribute greatly to Kenya's gross domestic product. "This master plan will take Kenya to Canaan," commented Ndemo. At the core of the master plan are three strategic pillars; Enhancing public value through service delivery and access to public services, strengthening ICT as a driver of the industry by establishing an ecosystem for ICT adoption and the development of ICT businesses that head an understanding of emerging markets' needs.

 

The master plan was prepared by lead consultants Harry Hare, who is also the publisher of CIO East Africa, Wadzanai Chiota-Madziva and edited by Joseph McOluoch with support from the National Communication Secretariat, IBM Corporate Service Corps, Creative Industry Task Force, Connected Health Task Force, Fidaly Kezar and Dorothy Nzeki from HP and Sally Kimeu and Tim Hirsch from Cisco. Ndemo says that the master plan is already under implementation. Paul Kukubo, KICTB CEO says the master plan has been in circulation for months with the aim of accepting input from the industry, but not much input had been received. The master plan will continue receiving "substantial input" for the next few weeks, before being finalised. The document replaces the 2006 master plan, which was seven pages long and focused on infrastructure. Ndemo says that he faced a lot of challenges when he proposed the establishment of the East African Marine System (TEAMS) to bring 3 Terabits Per second of connectivity to the country, with sceptics questioning who would use the capacity seeing the country was then on a 1.5 Gigabit per second satellite link (1000 Gbps = 1 Tbps). Since then, Kenya has had four undersea cables and a fifth cable is currently in its initial stages, with two more undersea cables planned to bring the total to seven. Not much detail has been given on the last three cables.

 

The overall goals of themaster plan include connecting every Kenyan to the Internet. "Guaranteeing every Kenyan 1 Mbps of connectivity is not a dream," the PS said. Recent whitespace trials by Microsoft and Indigo Telecom had seen residents in rural Kenya receiving up to 8 megabits per second though their TV aerials. The country is also on the verge of a joint roll out a 4G-LTE network by a consortium of telecommunication firms and government. The PS says that the government stands to make lots of savings from automating various agencies, such as procurement. He said the digital automation of the lands registry had increased collection of the registry from KSh. 800 million to KSh. 9 billion. John Sergon, ICT Director-Directorate of e-Government stated that 19 counties were now connected via telepresence units. Cheserem said that Kenya loses KSh. 300 billion to corruption annually, and automation would go a long way on stemming this.

 

However, Professor Tim Waema from the University of Nairobi's School of Computing and Informatics cautions that in the contrary, IT has been emerging as the new face of corruption in the country, where various scams now involve the use of ICT. Some of the highlights of the master plan's implementation include the January 23rd launch of the Konza Technology city. The PS says that Konza has received a lot of interest, way more than he had imagined it would. This he says include expression of interest to set up in Konza by two device manufacturing companies which Ndemo says will help bring much needed and absent manufacturing to Kenya. He says that the University of Nairobi had developed a prototype digital set top box, but was unable to raise any funding for mass manufacture of the same. The university has also worked on a prototype tablet and is now looking for funds to manufacture the same. The master plan however faces many challenges. Kukubo says that Kenya spends only 0.3 percent of its annual budget on ICT, compared with other governments that spend about 5 percent. In a panel discussing the master plan, Harry Mwangi, KICTB Public Sector and Shared Services project manager says that he hopes the next government will rationalise the ICT sector in a bid to avoid duplication of strategies within ministries. In addition, a number of ministries faced ICT implementation challenges as such projects fell under non -ICT managers. At the event, Dr. Kamal Bhttacharya, Director IBM Research -Africa said the firm would establish a supercomputer in Nairobi. He however did not give specifics.

From http://allafrica.com/ 03/21/2013

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ASIA: China Mulls Online Shopping Legislation

 

With China's e-commerce market expanding at full speed, the country is for the first time considering amending its consumer rights law to protect online shoppers' rights and interests.The widespread of information technology has allowed the Internet, TV and telephone-based commerce to surge, said Li Shishi, director of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, the country's top legislature.While briefing national lawmakers during a three-day bimonthly legislative session that opened on Tuesday, Li said new shopping forms such as e-shopping differed from conventional consumption, as online shoppers cannot identify the goods' authenticity and are susceptible to deceptive advertisement."Consumers select commodities merely through pictures and text descriptions," he said.The consumer rights law, which was enacted in 1993, does not have stipulations on the protection of consumer rights in online shopping."Consumption patterns, structure and concepts in China have undergone great changes over the past two decades," Li said, adding that amending the law aims to adapt to the new situation in protecting consumer rights.To deal with inadequate commodities or service information in online shopping, the draft amendments stress the protection of consumers' right to knowledge, saying sellers should provide authentic and necessary details of their products or services to e-shoppers.

 

The draft also ensures e-shoppers' right of choice and grants them the right to unilaterally terminate contracts. "Consumers have the right to return goods within seven days and get a refund," according to the proposal."The cooling off period of seven days" allows e-shoppers to change their minds, which is in line with international conventions, said Hu Gang, an expert from the Internet Society of China."Online shoppers can ask for compensation from the e-trade platform where transactions took place if the seller has stopped using the platform," the draft said, adding the platform can claim compensation from the seller after offering compensation to e-shoppers.The move is "significant" as it increases the responsibility of online platforms, which further protects online shoppers' rights, Hu said.China's booming online commerce industry is expected to reap more than 1.1 trillion yuan (about 175 billion U.S. dollars) in revenue in 2012, statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show.The industry has experienced rapid growth in recent years, with its total revenue expanding from 25.8 billion yuan in 2006 to 780 billion in 2011 in China. The growth dwarfed that of many western countries.

 

Taobao, a consumer-to-consumer (C2C) portal similar to eBay, features nearly one billion products and has nearly 500 million registered users. It sells 48,000 products each minute and its maximum daily turnover reached 4.38 billion yuan, according to taobao.com.It's parent company, Alibaba, on track to become the world's largest e-commerce firm, also owns Tmall, a Chinese popular business-to-consumer (B2C) portal like Amazon.Although the draft's Internet shopping stipulations are "detailed and feasible," it mainly covered B2C trade, Hu said, adding currently about 70 percent of online transactions in China are C2C, which needs further regulations to protect e-shoppers' rights.Complaints about online shopping are on the rise in China, with the number surpassing half of all service-related complaints in the capital last year, according to the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce and the city's consumers' association.

 

Cell phones and accessories, garments, domestic appliances and food are the categories that have been complained about most, said Huang Xiaowen, deputy director of the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce.Online shoppers complained that online business runners did not fulfill discount promises or arbitrarily cancel orders. They also complained about late delivery and substandard products, according to Huang.According to a MasterCard Worldwide survey issued last week, the Chinese mainland leads the Asia-Pacific region as the market with the most propensity to shop online, ahead of New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and South Korea.The survey, conducted between November and December 2012, included interviews with 7,011 respondents from 14 markets who were asked questions about their online shopping habits. China's score has increased by four index points from last year's index.Driving these shifts in China are increased confidence in shopping as "people felt more secure while shopping online," according to MasterCard. There is also an emerging view that shopping online is "easy" among 89.5 percent of the Chinese respondents, up from 80.8 percent in 2011.

From http://china.org.cn/ 04/23/2013

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Singapore Tops International E-Government Rankings

 

The Waseda University Institute of e-Government in Japan released its ninth annual international e-government rankings of 55 countries last week. Retaining its position from 2012, Singapore topped the rankings this year, followed by Finland and USA. Factors such as Singapore’s new e-citizen portal, along with the high coverage of fibre-based broadband, upgrades to mobile government, and OneInbox (a secured platform allowing citizens to receive government letters electronically) led to Singapore’s high rank. Asian nations constitute 40 per cent of the top ten countries this year. Taiwan is ranked eighth, up from tenth in 2012, and Japan has moved from rank eight to rank six. South Korea remains in the top ten at rank four, down from its third position last year. Australia, however, moved from its seventh position in 2012 to 11th this year.

 

The 55 nations included in the study are assessed on seven criteria: national portal, presence and mandate of the government CIO, e-services provided to citizens (such as e-voting and e-tax), promotion of e-government, network infrastructure, digital inclusion, and use of ICT for improving internal processes of the government. The 2013 study identified open data and national ID card programmes as new trends this year. Trends identified in 2012, including cloud computing, mobile technology, social media, and cybersecurity, remained popular amongst governments. These annual rankings by Waseda University are led by Dr Toshio Obi, Director of Institute of e-Government, in collaboration with the International Academy of CIO. Organisations such as the United Nations, International Telecommunication Union (ITU – the UN’s ICT agency) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) contributed to the assessment.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/02/2013

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Thailand’s Smart City Steps Up Network Progress

 

Under Thailand’s first Smart City Project, Nakhon Nayok province has recently signed a MOU to cover the entire province with broadband infrastructure and enhance the connection among local agencies with high speed internet via optical fibre. Presiding over the signing ceremony, Nakhon Nayok Governor Dr Surachai Sirisaracam said that as the first Smart City, Nakhon Nayok would leverage ICT to strengthen the community’s competitiveness, and prepare the province for the Asean Economic Community in 2015. In partnership with True Corp, a broadband infrastructure will be built to cover four districts and 408 villages by end of the year. “The province will receive a 2014 fiscal budget of THB 625 million (US$ 21.07 million) for the smart city project,” he revealed. After the new infrastructure has been established, the use of ICT will be promoted to increase competitiveness among citizens in the community, according to him. Latest communication technology will also be provided to increase efficiency of local government agencies, improving the government’s network with wireless internet and cloud computing to accommodate multiple devices, he said. True Corp will further expand its 3G Plus Truemove H network, which currently covers 90 per cent of the province’s total 250,000 people. It will also expand the fibre network to connect 21 local agencies with high speed internet. Apart from enjoying convenient internet access, citizens of Nakhon Nayok will benefit from a new e-commerce platform by True Corp that will modernise the market channel to promote local products.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/14/2013

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India Launching National Cloud Initiative

 

New Delhi: The Government of India has launched a national cloud initiative —GI Cloud—to help the government leverage cloud computing for effective delivery of e-services. The project by the Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY) has beeninitiated to support the implementation of the National e-Governance Plan of India (NeGP) and aims to create a private cloud environment for the use of government departments and agencies at the centre and state levels. According to DeitY, the adoption of cloud computing will accelerate the delivery of e-services to citizens, and support other objectives such as increasing standardisation, interoperability and integration, pooling of scarce and underused resources, and the spread of best practices. Cloud computing provides tremendous scope of speeding up the development and roll out of e-governance applications while increasing government ICT efficiency.

 

A roadmap to GI Cloud was released by DeitY last week, assessing the ICT infrastructure currently in place in India and defining an implementation plan for GI Cloud. The roadmap declares that cloud computing environments will be established at the national and state levels, starting with one National Cloud, using new and existing data centres. The National Cloud will provide services such as computing, storage and network infrastructure, backup and recovery, and application development, supported by the State Clouds. A GI Cloud Services Directory will be created to help public sector organisations find and subscribe to relevant services. The government’s AppStore will host both cloud and non-cloud enabled applications which can easily be customised to meet the needs of different organisations. The first step defined for the implementation of GI Cloud is the establishment of an ‘Empowered Committee’ to provide strategic and regulatory guidance to DeitY and other stakeholders. DeitY will publish guidelines and standards for the security, application development, service delivery, contract management, and pricing and procurement for GI Cloud. The roadmap specifies that detailed studies of the existing infrastructure capacity at the government data centres and the requirement for infrastructure and applications need to be conducted for effective implementation of GI Cloud.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 02/27/2013

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Azerbaijan Sees Virtualization Technology Boom: Expert

 

A boom in the development of virtualization technology is being observed in Azerbaijan, Russian Naumen company's executive Andrey Milovanov told the press in Baku on Thursday. Virtualization technology creates a virtual version of hardware platforms, operating systems, storage devices, or network resources. According to Milovanov, today virtualization technology is new not only for the Azerbaijani ICT market, but also for the markets of the CIS countries overall. The process of the development of virtualization technologies is becoming increasingly popular. Milovanov said the development of this segment of the ICT market may be underway with some delay due to certain reasons. "At present, virtualization technology is acquiring more popularity in Azerbaijan. I believe the development of infrastructure management technology will mark the next step. This sphere is an innovation both for Azerbaijan and other CIS countries," Milovanov said.

 

Azerbaijan's market, according to him, will inevitably go through the stages of development, although with some delay. For example, if one compares it with the Russian market, where the boom of virtualization technologies has subsided, Azerbaijan is observing the peak of its development. "The Azerbaijani market of information technologies has great potential and growth prospects. Azerbaijan is a priority country for us, amongst the CIS countries, as can be seen from frequent visits of our specialists to the country. We are working at the level of large institutions, one of which is the International Bank of Azerbaijan. There are also other companies we are negotiating with," Milovanov said.

 

The company's future plans for the Azerbaijani market include expanding the partner network, and negotiations are being held with local ICT companies to that end. There is also a possibility of opening Naumen's offices in Azerbaijan. This issue, according to Milovanov, will gain relevance in 2014. In this regard, the company has engaged the necessary resources for the study and analysis of the ICT market of Azerbaijan. Naumen is the leading Russian software solution developer for business and state bodies. Naumen renders services on developing, implementation and support of the software projects based on its own solutions. The company cooperates with Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Kazakh and Uzbek ICT companies.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 04/12/2013

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Australia: Public-Private Partnership a Challenge for Cybercrime Centers

 

Cybercrime centers are too focused on protecting government systems, and within it, public-private collaboration pose challenges when it comes to the fear of information leakage during the sharing of data and the private sector's worries that the government may penalize them. According to Ngair Teow-Hin, CEO of SecureAge, many cybercrime centers are structured to focus on protecting government systems and critical infrastructure. As such, they tend to leave out the private sector, and subsequently, they cannot benefit from such government efforts and their computer systems remain vulnerable to cyberattacks, he explained. Both public and private sectors also face issues with information sharing. His comments follow reports last month that 95 percent of Australia's Cyber Security Center's staff will be from the country's Defense Department. The move has drawn criticism the center will duplicate functions of the country's Department of Defense's own Cybersecurity Center and did not give the private sector a say.

 

Paul Black, managing principal for Verizon's Risk Team agreed, adding another key challenge is the information sharing between public and private organization. The public sector is hindered by regulatory factors and bureaucracy, while the private sector holds back sharing because of competition and intellectual property (IP), Black explained. Both sides are also worried that information shared outside their respective organizations may be disclosed to unauthorized parties, he added. Similarly, Japan's National Police Agency (NPA) too, admitted last month it faced difficulties working with private sector employees to leverage their skills for cybercrime investigations, over concerns that classified information may be leaked. Additionally, private sectors are also hesitant to collaborate with public sector organizations as there is a fear that opening up to the government may open an opportunity for them to find ways to penalize the private sector's activities or policies, Black added. Cybersecurity is not a responsibility limited to either the public or private sector but a shared responsibility that has a significant impact on national IT systems and private organizations, the Verizon executive noted.

 

"Both sides must recognize safeguarding national systems, critical infrastructure, IP can be significantly improved only when both parties combine their resources and intelligence together," he said. Cybercrime centers need to include people who truly understand cybercrime activities and technologies used in such a center, Ngair advised. Many security professionals may be good in traditional methods of protections but cannot keep up with the latest threats and do not understand how cybercriminals' evolving tactics, he pointed out. Such professionals may be able to prevent a "garden variety of threats" but not advanced ones, Ngair warned. This is why a cybercrime center needs capable cybersecurity professionals, especially people who understand the intrinsic weaknesses in computer systems, the SecureAge CEO said. Black added staff of a cybercrime center should have a diverse range of skills, ranging from technical intelligence, research, attorneys, developers, software engineers, data analytics professionals, legal compliance officers and criminal investigators.

 

A transparent and collaborative approach toward information sharing, with right policies should be established to enhance collaboration within a cybercrime center, he added. Proper legal frameworks and work flows need to be established to protect both parties, he explained. Governments can set up a separate group of experts who do not deal with classified systems so that the group can share the information and knowledge freely with the private industry, Ngair suggested. "This way, the private industry can benefit from the shared information and wisdoms to protect themselves against cybercriminals," he said.

From http://www.zdnet.com 03/08/2013

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NORTH AMERICA: U.S. - How to Improve Government-to-Citizen Communication

 

The guiding principle of “Create once, publish everywhere” holds true for publishing online content, and its relevance is increasing in government-to-citizen digital communication. Public-sector alert notifications company GovDelivery CEO Scott Burns echoed this sentiment during the Digital Communications Tour: Northern California held on Wednesday, April 3 in Oakland, Calif. During the conference, Burns spoke to government employees involved with citizen outreach and emphasized key strategies to improve citizen engagement using constituent notifications. According to Burns, before reaching out to citizens with notifications such as emergency alerts and traffic updates, for example, agencies must first build a strong database of contacts. By consolidating existing email contact lists using automated and integrated solutions, governments can more efficiently add new contacts, and reach their constituents. Not surprisingly, Burns said governments should continue to think about the impact of cellphones, since more and more citizens are accessing email and messages on their phones. Steve Ressler, founder and CEO of public-sector knowledge network GovLoop, said mobile use is definitely on the rise and that there are many ways government departments can communicate with citizens via their cellphones.

 

“We’re seeing mobile change how we do citizen engagement, so you’re at a BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] station and you can text out when the latest train is coming,” Ressler said. COPE [create once, publish everywhere] is an effective strategy to get updates and notifications to the public, eliminating redundancies while still getting the message out to the people who need it. Sending one message in multiple forms (press release, social media, text message) can be effective as long as the information being sent out is worth distributing through multiple channels. “It’s not a new concept, but government communication is very complicated. You have lots of different topics of information being managed in many different agencies,” Burns said. “It is a trend, it’s not a cure-all, but it is an important trend because [governments] have to do more with constrained resources.” But some government employees feel departments have a long way to go before government-to-citizen communication is a fine-tuned instrument. Nicole Neditch, Oakland's online engagement manager, said there’s still room for improvement. “I think governments are really far behind as far as the way in which people interact with websites,” Neditch said. “It has been a one-way communication for a long time and now people are starting to dive into a two-way conversation on the Web. I think we’re going to see a lot more services being offered online in the government sector.”

From http://www.govtech.com/ 04/05/2013

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Unesco Adopts Open Access Policy

 

Starting July 2013, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will make hundreds of digital publications available to millions of people free-of-charge, thanks to its recent implementation of an Open Access Policy. “Advancements in education, science and culture are made possible through broad and unfettered access to research and knowledge, enabling policymakers, researchers, practitioners and the general public to use and build upon this knowledge. As an intergovernmental organization, UNESCO has a fundamental interest in ensuring that the outputs created by the Organisation, including publications, data and resources, are available to the widest possible audience,” the agency said. Apart from maximum freedom use of the agency’s publications, the policy will also address the spiraling costs of the scientific literature, which is essential to researchers. According to an official statement, resources published through UNESCO will be assigned a license that allows anyone to use any content for as long as the original author and UNESCO are given credit for the original creation. In this aspect, UNESCO will make the publications available online through a multilingual Repository which will be launched in the coming weeks.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/16/2013

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ANZ: ICT Strategies Take Centre Stage

 

Federal and state governments – in Australia and New Zealand – are refining their ICT strategies. These road-maps clarify just how the ICT dollar will be spent this decade – while delivering faster, cost-effective and improved services to citizens. Broadly, the focus is on corporate governance, modernising technology infrastructure, boosting service delivery, and engaging with the industry at the outset. More recently, South Australia unveiled its ICT strategy, with its ‘South Australia Connected – Ready for the Future’. South Australia is not immune from pressures worldwide to do more with less with the spending dollar, this strategy notes. The focus is to stay “connected,” and policy planners must innovate to address the needs of information-savvy citizens.

 

In New South Wales,

The NSW Government’s ‘ICT Strategy 2012’ seeks to bring NSW out of the “dark ages and into the 21st century.” This strategy cautions there are no “easy or quick fixes” to how the ICT dollar is spent. This state aims to use its annual AU$2 billion ICT spending programme more effectively. The goal is to increase competition, manage time and resources, and tackle the costs and risks of embracing new platforms.

 

In Victoria,

The Victorian government’s ‘ICT Strategy 2013’ observes that portfolio management is one panacea to helping agencies avoid unnecessary investment, while freeing up resources. Where practical, agencies may reuse and share ICT systems and contracts rather than develop new solutions. Plans are under-way to establish a single common register of ICT business systems. This register identifies sharing opportunities as an alternative to developing new systems. Victoria is exploring a mix of in-house, managed and outsourced service delivery. Planners are focusing on staying cost-effective, responding to changing needs, and leveraging available market expertise and opportunities. The Queensland Government’s ‘ICT Strategy 2012’ seeks to work more closely with the ICT industry. This collaboration reinforces partnering with the private sector, while identifying new ways to do business. This engagement involves teaming up with solutions providers to support government initiatives.

 

At the federal level

The Australian Government’s ‘ICT Strategy 2012-2015’ offers a comprehensive roadmap for reform. This strategy aims to use ICT to simplify and integrate government services, while keeping communications private and secure, especially for citizen data. The focus is on innovation and a strategic use of ICT, while harnessing the full potential of a digital economy and new technologies, including cloud services. The federal government wants to engage more openly with citizens and the industry. It aims to create, generate, share, manage, and efficiently use information resources.

 

Other more broad-based strategies include

The Tasmanian Government’s ‘ICT Strategy 2012’ The states of Western Australian, Tasmania, and Northern Territory have ICT strategies as well — however, not as detailed as the Eastern seaboard states. Across the Tasman, in New Zealand, the government has its own version of a strategy, ‘Government ICT Directions and Priorities’. The New Zealand strategy is currently under scrutiny. Plans are under-way to refine this roadmap further — while building on what the administration has delivered to date. Cloud computing is under closer investigation — including cost-savings this platform delivers.

 

Adding to these strategies, the Australian and New Zealand governments have also appointed government chief information officers (GCIOs). These GCIOs add gravitas to how strategies are implemented, while ensuring that technologies-of-choice match agency-wide needs, are cost-effective, and deliver the biggest bang for the buck. States with GCIOs (or equivalent) include Queensland, NSW, South Australia, and a more recent addition in Victoria. The Federal government, on the other hand, has split the role of GCIO into two under the auspices of the peak agency AGIMO. These roles incorporate the Australian Government Chief Technology Officer, and GCIO — with a sharing of responsibilities.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 04/16/2013

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African Union Commission Makes ICT Priority Project

 

The African Union Commission (AUC) says it has, for the first time, made information and communications one of its priority areas, urging the media in Africa to collaborate with it in the promotion of Africa's image. Mrs. Habiba Mejri-Cheikh, Director of Information and Communications at the African Union (AU), stressed the need for journalists to influence public opinion by creating awareness on the socio-economic and political development of the continent. She said: “Our role as African media practitioners is to promote the true image of Africa in all development areas so that Africa can occupy its rightful position in the world arena.' “Africa’s position in socio-political and economic matters in the world should be clearly publicized to wipe off the negative image foreign media continue to paint about Africa,” Mejri-Cheikh said Wednesday in an address delivered on her behalf by Esther Azaa Tankou, senior editorial officer at the AUC, at a pre-conference media workshop in Abidjan. Journalists are meeting ahead of the annual meeting of African Ministers of Economy and Finance and the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA), scheduled to take place 21-26 March. Mejri-Cheikh said the media had the responsibility to report on all issues concerning Africa in a balanced manner – the good and the bad -- as well as to hold states accountable on the issues they agree to and those that bind them by virtue of being part of the continental body. According to Mejri-Cheikh, so many activities have been undertaken by the Directorate of Information and Communication of the AUC to enhance the media landscape in Africa and contribute to build capacity of Panafrican journalists. African Finance and Economy Ministers as well as Govenors of Central Banks will be meeting in Abidjan under the theme “Industrialization for an Emerging Africa” to dialogue on issues pertinent to the development agenda of Africa.

From http://www.afriquejet.com/ 03/22/2013

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African Countries Implement Child Online Protection Initiative

 

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) has partnered with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to complete the implementation of the Child Online Protection initiative in six African countries before it is rolled out more broadly throughout the continent. The COP initiative will be rolled out in Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Mauritius, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, as a result of plans finalized during the CTO's third Commonwealth Cybersecurity Forum, which ended in Cameroon Friday. COP was established as an international collaborative network for action to promote the online protection of children worldwide in conjunction with U.N. agencies and partners. It was launched in the wake of the ITU's Global Cybersecurity Agenda, which seeks to ensure safety and security in online environments to afford children the opportunity to benefit fully from the ICT revolution. With little or no monitoring mechanisms in place in African countries, COP is expected to tackle cybersecurity by addressing legal, technical, organizational and procedural issues as well as capacity building and international cooperation. It was launched in Mauritius in October last year, and after it is rolled out to the initial set of six countries, it will be implemented across Africa by April 2014.

 

Some of the key topics discussed this week at the forum include how a global approach to cybersecurity can assure the safety, security and resilience of cyberspace; the implications of Critical Information Infrastructure Protection for developing countries as facilitated by Microsoft and the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST); and the impact of Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) on cybersecurity in Africa. At a special briefing session jointly organized by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the CTO on Wednesday, Commonwealth parliamentarians examined international and regional best practices on key legal aspects of electronic commerce with a view to understand how to deliver their mandate effectively. They recommended improved cooperation between Commonwealth organizations such as the CTO and CPA with other relevant organizations such as UNCTAD, ITU and Interpol, leading to transborder cooperation on cybersecurity based on international treaties.

From http://news.idg.no/ 04/26/2013

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KENYA: Launching National ICT Master Plan

 

Kenya mid February launched the National ICT Master Plan, a strategy document that will guide the country's ICT direction in the next five years. Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication says that the country aims to be a Knowledge Economy by 2017. He was speaking at the Kenya ICT Board(KICTB) organised function at the Sarova Stanley in Nairobi. The function was attended by a cross section of ICT stakeholders. Notably present was Micah Cheserem, the chair of the Commision on Revenue Allocation, Mr. Francis W. Wangusi, CCK Director General and John Sergon, ICT Director-Directorate of e-Government, ICT is expected to contribute greatly to Kenya's gross domestic product. "This master plan will take Kenya to Canaan," commented Ndemo. At the core of the master plan are three strategic pillars; Enhancing public value through service delivery and access to public services, strengthening ICT as a driver of the industry by establishing an ecosystem for ICT adoption and the development of ICT businesses that head an understanding of emerging markets' needs.

 

The master plan was prepared by lead consultants Harry Hare, who is also the publisher of CIO East Africa, Wadzanai Chiota-Madziva and edited by Joseph McOluoch with support from the National Communication Secretariat, IBM Corporate Service Corps, Creative Industry Task Force, Connected Health Task Force, Fidaly Kezar and Dorothy Nzeki from HP and Sally Kimeu and Tim Hirsch from Cisco. Ndemo says that the master plan is already under implementation. Paul Kukubo, KICTB CEO says the master plan has been in circulation for months with the aim of accepting input from the industry, but not much input had been received. The master plan will continue receiving "substantial input" for the next few weeks, before being finalised. The document replaces the 2006 master plan, which was seven pages long and focused on infrastructure. Ndemo says that he faced a lot of challenges when he proposed the establishment of the East African Marine System (TEAMS) to bring 3 Terabits Per second of connectivity to the country, with sceptics questioning who would use the capacity seeing the country was then on a 1.5 Gigabit per second satellite link (1000 Gbps = 1 Tbps). Since then, Kenya has had four undersea cables and a fifth cable is currently in its initial stages, with two more undersea cables planned to bring the total to seven. Not much detail has been given on the last three cables.

 

The overall goals of themaster plan include connecting every Kenyan to the Internet. "Guaranteeing every Kenyan 1 Mbps of connectivity is not a dream," the PS said. Recent whitespace trials by Microsoft and Indigo Telecom had seen residents in rural Kenya receiving up to 8 megabits per second though their TV aerials. The country is also on the verge of a joint roll out a 4G-LTE network by a consortium of telecommunication firms and government. The PS says that the government stands to make lots of savings from automating various agencies, such as procurement. He said the digital automation of the lands registry had increased collection of the registry from KSh. 800 million to KSh. 9 billion. John Sergon, ICT Director-Directorate of e-Government stated that 19 counties were now connected via telepresence units. Cheserem said that Kenya loses KSh. 300 billion to corruption annually, and automation would go a long way on stemming this.

However, Professor Tim Waema from the University of Nairobi's School of Computing and Informatics cautions that in the contrary, IT has been emerging as the new face of corruption in the country, where various scams now involve the use of ICT. Some of the highlights of the master plan's implementation include the January 23rd launch of the Konza Technology city. The PS says that Konza has received a lot of interest, way more than he had imagined it would. This he says include expression of interest to set up in Konza by two device manufacturing companies which Ndemo says will help bring much needed and absent manufacturing to Kenya. He says that the University of Nairobi had developed a prototype digital set top box, but was unable to raise any funding for mass manufacture of the same. The university has also worked on a prototype tablet and is now looking for funds to manufacture the same. The master plan however faces many challenges. Kukubo says that Kenya spends only 0.3 percent of its annual budget on ICT, compared with other governments that spend about 5 percent. In a panel discussing the master plan, Harry Mwangi, KICTB Public Sector and Shared Services project manager says that he hopes the next government will rationalise the ICT sector in a bid to avoid duplication of strategies within ministries. In addition, a number of ministries faced ICT implementation challenges as such projects fell under non -ICT managers. At the event, Dr. Kamal Bhttacharya, Director IBM Research -Africa said the firm would establish a supercomputer in Nairobi. He however did not give specifics.

From http://allafrica.com/ 03/21/2013

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TANZANIA: To Draft New ICT Laws

 

As technology allows more users to conduct business and transact online, Tanzania has recognized the need to formulate better ICT laws to protect users against with the growth of cybercrime and other computer-related offences. “We are in the consultation process with various experts and we hope by the end of the year we will be through, and forward the matter to relevant processes and eventually we will have laws in place,” said Director of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) at the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology, Dr Zaipuna Yonah. Yonah conceded that while a vast number of online transaction are made on a daily basis, Tanzania does not have the right laws in place to protect all users. “So many people are now using mobile phones, almost half of the country’s population, and so many transactions are being made online and yet our legal control is much limited,” he added. According to Tanzania Daily News, “he added that with the country’s national ICT backbone well spread out, so many challenges related to cyber were inevitable and the legal systems need to be strengthened. He called on business operators and investors to ensure that their companies are being run responsibly.” Yonah stressed that Kenya does have cyber laws, but it lacks the focus on security, which in important to online users. “We want to ensure secure businesses, investments and make sure that our people stay safe in this technological world. In Kenya they have ICT law but it is not focused on cyber security, I am glad that Tanzania is leading the way and other countries will follow. We are helping participants to put in place systems that works and we have technologies that can help prevent some of the crimes especially those involving stealing money from ATM machines.”

From http://www.itnewsafrica.com/ 04/27/2013

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EU: Brussels Under Pressure to Soften Data Protection Rules

 

The European Commission is coming under pressure from countries that include the UK and the US to ease the data protection rules proposed for European countries, instead aligning European data protection laws with international legislation. The EC is looking to create a unified set of data protection rules for the EU’s 27 countries, while in the process doing some streamlining (dropping the requirement for companies to have a named data protection officer) and beefing up privacy protection. The rules are meant to be voted on in June, but the proposal as written is drawing a raft of criticism. The Financial Times reports that a memo drafted by the Irish presidency, representing EU countries, notes that "several member states have voiced their disagreement with the level of prescriptiveness of a number of the proposed obligations in the draft regulation." The UK and the US have submitted their own notes on the matter, the FT said.

 

The issues, which European Parliament is expected to debate beginning this week, are far-ranging. For instance, when it comes to privacy, the rules would require explicit consent from individuals in order for companies to use their data—something that companies say would add an extra layer of complexity and oversight to its administrative processes that would be overly onerous. The rules would also require businesses to notify of personal data breaches within 24 hours—again, a stringent requirement that not all enterprises would be able to ability to easily comply with. Some however, point out the level of risk involved. “We support the need to facilitate the data economy in Europe because free exchange, storage and analysis of personal data is essential to a healthy digital economy and society,” said Gary Clark, vice president of EMEA at SafeNet, in an email to Infosecurity. “However, we shouldn’t underestimate the impact that lack of consumer confidence will have on the economy if an organization receives a data breach and peoples’ personal data is taken without consequence.”

 

Another item in the proposal gives online users the “right to be forgotten,” so that individuals can essentially ask a Google or Facebook to delete every mention of them anywhere in their records. Proponents say the option will save teens from living with poor decision-making in terms of online sharing for the rest of their lives; opponents (i.e., Google) say the proposal would irrevocably harm its business value. One amendment that Brussels is expected to debate is the idea of taking a "risk-based" approach, so that individual countries or businesses would be subject to the interpretation the law as appropriate. "If you have a butcher whose data processing only affects 20 local people, you need to be able to treat an infringement there differently from a company with private health records," said a spokesperson for the UK's Information Commissioner's Office told the Guardian.

 

"Regulations are key so long as they are enforceable and don’t have unintended consequences like inhibiting the economic development that European citizens desperately need to see," said Clark. "But, any relaxation of red tape and harsh penalties needs to be mirrored by commercial and public sector bodies taking more ambitious, unilateral steps to strengthen data protection themselves. Greater reassurance and protection will be achievable when organizations that exchange and hold vast volumes of personal data re-build their data protection strategies around a secure breach approach that extends strong data encryption to all personal data."

From http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/ 03/07/2013

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Europe's Broken Telecom Policy

 

The European telecommunications sector is facing unprecedented challenges. Total revenue in the sector shrank 8% between 2007 and 2011, a period in which other regions, most notably East Asia and North America, saw sustained growth. At the same time, European telecommunications companies need to invest in upgrading network infrastructure to allow much faster Internet-access speeds than are generally available in Europe today. The European Digital Agenda targets download rates of 30 megabits per second for all EU citizens by 2020, and speeds above 100 mbps for at least 50% of broadband subscribers in the EU. According to the European Commission, only 12% of fixed broadband lines are at least 30 mbps, and just 2.5% are 100 mbps or more. Europe's telcos can contribute to the general economic recovery that the Continent so badly needs. But as matters stand, the telecom industry is heavily regulated and unduly fragmented. The European Council has declared that strengthening the Digital Single Market is a major policy priority. The European Commission's new strategy, which will be presented later this year, needs to focus on how best to streamline regulation and remove obstacles to further market consolidation.

 

Once a global leader in telecom infrastructure and innovation, Europe today faces some key disadvantages compared with the rest of the world. While allowing for market liberalization at the national level, EU policy has focused on keeping wholesale and retail prices low to promote accessibility of telecom services. Overly intrusive regulation of wholesale access to operators' networks has led in many cases to an inefficient market structure. The result is a degree of market fragmentation across Europe unseen anywhere else in the world. In the EU there are more than 1,200 fixed telecom operators, 100 mobile network operators, 200 mobile virtual network operators and 1,500 cable operators. In the U.S., by contrast, there are six major operators; in China there are only three. In the U.S., four operators control 86% of the market, which has around 330 million subscribers. In Europe, which has a total of 645 million subscribers, it takes the top 15 operators to reach the same combined market share.

 

This highly fragmented market structure has led to declining revenue across the sector, which in turn has substantially diminished firms' investment capacity. A cycle of declining value and decreasing investment is detrimental both to EU citizens, who will see far less innovation as a result, and for the entire European economy. That's why Europe's entire market-structure and regulatory strategy needs to be rethought. The sector must be placed on a more sustainable, market-based footing before it can provide a vibrant communications network. Consolidation, both domestically and across national borders, is vitally needed. Allowing operators to achieve larger economies of scale is crucial to the development of next-generation broadband infrastructures across Europe.

 

Finally, with the tremendous increase in mobile network usage, spectrum is becoming an increasingly essential resource both for telecom operators and for the public at large. A thorough review of EU spectrum policy, one that takes into account the negative effect of high auction costs and fragmented national licensing regimes, must be undertaken to allow operators to recoup investment within a shorter time frame. Keeping prices low in national markets, rather than fostering competition across the Single Market, was a good strategy early on, while the sector was still growing. But in today's market, such policy is no longer reasonable, credible or effective. In a digitally interconnected world, the most relevant geographic marketplace is global. It is this overarching fact that European competition and industrial policies must now boldly address.

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 04/26/2013

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European Commission Plans Guide Through Global Internet Policy Labyrinth

 

The Commission today unveiled plans for the Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO), an online platform to improve knowledge of and participation of all stakeholders across the world in debates and decisions on Internet policies. GIPO will be developed by the Commission and a core alliance of countries and Non Governmental Organisations involved in Internet governance. Brazil, the African Union, Switzerland, the Association for Progressive Communication, Diplo Foundation and the Internet Society have agreed to cooperate or have expressed their interest to be involved in the project. The Global Internet Policy Observatory will act as a clearinghouse for monitoring Internet policy, regulatory and technological developments across the world.

 

It will:

•automatically monitor Internet-related policy developments at the global level, making full use of "big data" technologies;

•identify links between different fora and discussions, with the objective to overcome "policy silos";

•help contextualise information, for example by collecting existing academic information on a specific topic, highlighting the historical and current position of the main actors on a particular issue, identifying the interests of different actors in various policy fields;

•identify policy trends, via quantitative and qualitative methods such as semantic and sentiment analysis;

•provide easy-to-use briefings and reports by incorporating modern visualisation techniques;

 

The objective of GIPO is to increase expertise and understanding among all actors, including countries, NGOs and interest groups which may have so far been marginalised in Internet debates and decisions. The Commission fears that the vast range of policy areas impacted by the Internet, combined with a highly complex institutional framework, may cause disengagement from these discussions, which must be truly inclusive in order to ensure a globally legitimate and sustainable governance framework for the Internet.

 

GIPO will not replace existing mechanisms and fora where global Internet governance is discussed, such as the Internet Governance Forum. To the contrary, its objective is to be a tool-box for stakeholders and an instrument to strengthen existing Internet policy-making processes, making full use of modern technology. The European Commission is 100% committed to supporting the open internet. It hopes to safeguard the open nature of global internet governance, including a model which is more inclusive of the needs and priorities of all actors, including those from the developing world. (see SPEECH/13/167). In the coming months, the Commission will carry out a feasibility study into GIPO, and pending those results, the development of the online platform could commence in 2014.

From http://ec.europa.eu/ 05/15/2013

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FINLAND: An IT Nation Plans for the Future, Somewhere Between Openness and Privacy

 

Entrepreneur Matias Lindroos holds up his iPhone as he explains his business venture in a busy cafe in central Helsinki. "If you don't have coins on you, all you need is this and you can park on the street." A blue dot on a map represents a person's current location, and a message above it says "3 euros per hour." When the car's registration number is inputted, the parking fee is automatically charged to that individual's credit card. This is a smartphone application called Parkman, launched by Lindroos, 26, in 2010. As parking charges in Helsinki vary from place to place, the software downloads and presents information on various municipally-owned lots across the city. "Local governments could keep the data to themselves, but then this kind of software could never be made. The more it is made available, the more entrepreneurs can come up with all sorts of ideas," says Lindroos.

 

The concept of "open data" is gaining ground in Europe and the United States. It means that citizens and businesses accessing data held by governments and local authorities can create better services. In Finland, the open data concept is being implemented across the country. The Ministry of Transport and Communications is leading the charge in examining what data can be made available, and a tentative proposal will be presented around March. Since the 1990s, the growth of leading international cellphone manufacturer Nokia has given Finland the impetus to position information technology at the center of its national strategy. It has also made broadband Internet access a legal right for all citizens. However, as Nokia's fortunes have waned, the open data movement has taken on greater significance as a means for industrial development.

 

"Granting access to government data will create new business opportunities," says Minister of Housing and Communications Krista Kiuru, 38, who is in charge of formulating the country's IT strategy. According to one organization involved in the open data industry, detailed maps that even display the locations of trees and rocks, and information on the real-time locations of fixed-route buses have already been made available. Information technology is crucial to efficient national management in Finland, which has a large government and an extensive and costly welfare system. The introduction of social security numbers--an issue that met with great opposition in Japan--took effect in the 1960s. The scope of information held by the government is wide-ranging; for example, it knows the religious affiliation of each citizen. "The Finnish people, who have access to generous welfare benefits, mostly place a great deal of trust in the government," says Katya Valaskivi, a University of Tampere senior media research scholar and associate professor. "They have attached greater importance to the benefits of the services they can receive, rather than concerns regarding the misuse of information by the government."

 

Finland has also striven to improve transparency, which have put it atop Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index. The websites of various ministries and agencies feature staff photos, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses, even for those in charge. Most make themselves available for interviews, as was the case with Kiuru, the minister of housing and communications, who responded openly to questions at a cafe in Helsinki. State Secretary Olli-Pekka Heinonen, 48, the equivalent of Japan's chief Cabinet secretary, explained the government's shift to open data. "One of the negative sides of IT is that society becomes more complex and interconnected. The most vulnerable societies are centrally led and homogeneous ones," he said. "Society is better if people are more agile on an individual level of society with good access to information. It also makes society less vulnerable because information is not only in the hands of a few but in the hands of everybody to react to different shocks our societies will face."

 

Finland has also made efforts to utilize information technology in health and nursing care. Trials are continuing to make all personal information available via various platforms. The city of Espoo is located west of Helsinki, on the other side of a bay. Inside a high-ceilinged, low-rise building is a showroom measuring around 50 square meters that is operated by Active Life Village, a venture business that develops IT services aimed at elderly people. Its floors and furniture contain various sensors that collect data on the location of residents, their breathing, their medicine intake and other information for use in their nursing care. Managing director Juha Lipiainen, 55, has also invested in an Internet service called "Taltioni," which means "my record" in Finnish. It started in January of this year as a national project, backed with government funding.

 

Taltioni can be used to access electronic health records managed by doctors, and future coordination with information collected by Active Life Village is under consideration. "It's a unique approach that emerged from the idea of keeping track of your own medical information yourself," says Lipiainen. He displayed a screen of his own data, which included a record of the dental treatment he had received recently. Other companies are free to come up with their own applications, and there is already one in development that lets users calculate their remaining lifespan based on their health condition. The service's principal objective is the sharing of information with doctors and other relevant parties. The inland city of Oulu lies around 200 kilometers from the north pole, but free wifi Internet hotspots abound within its environs. "I think we will ultimately have the ability to record our entire lives," says Petri Pulli, 55, a professor at the University of Oulu who is researching the use of IT in supporting the elderly. He believes that a development of this kind would be of great assistance to dementia sufferers.

 

For example, a video camera attached to a pair of spectacles would capture footage of scenery and people that would be stored via the Internet along with location information and other details. This data could be searched using a face recognition function, and if a match is found with a person in the user's line of sight, their name and data would be displayed. Data on the user's relationship with that person would also be added. However, Pulli has some reservations about such technology. "Privacy represents a major obstacle to this project. Would it truly be possible to control all of your online personal information yourself? I don't know the answer to that yet."

 

PRIVACY AND CONTROL

University of Oulu professor Petri Pulli writes pairs of contrasting words on a drawing pad. "Individual" on the left, and "society" on the right. "Privacy" on the left, and "control" on the right. The question at hand is whether an emphasis should be placed on individual privacy, or regulating society as a whole, even at the risk of sacrificing privacy. "Compared with nations like the United States where greater importance is attached to the individual, Finland is closer to the words I wrote on the right. In a country like this, it is possible that experiments to record our memories via the Internet will gain acceptance," Pulli said.

 

KENYA: AFRICA'S IT LEADER

On the eve of a general election on March 4th, the Kenyan capital of Nairobi is abuzz with anticipation. "This will be the first election in Kenya supported by the Internet," says Juliana Rotich, 35, on the balcony of a building bathed in harsh equatorial sunlight. "Problems might occur, but I'm proud to be part of a new challenge." She is moving ahead with preparations for the launch of a website where users will be able to post information about the election on a map. The site is named "Uchaguzi." It means "choice" in Swahili, and its main purpose is to keep an eye on riots and other occurrences. Rotich works in collaboration with NGOs, and has created a system through which posts made via cellphone text messages, e-mail, Facebook, and other networking sites can be verified for accuracy and passed on to the police for quick response. This new initiative utilizes the technology of "Ushahidi," a Kenyan-born map information platform. Ushahidi is Swahili for "witness."

 

It played an important role in aggregating damage reports immediately after the Haiti earthquake in 2010, as well as the temblors that hit Christchurch, New Zealand and northeast Japan the following year. Rotich is one of Ushahidi's four founders. It originated following the previous general election in 2007. Citizens displeased with the result went on a rampage that caused the deaths of more than 1,000 people. Rotich and her collaborators created a makeshift site with the help of IT experts around the world via the Internet, with the aim of displaying up-to-date information on riots in different areas on a map. It can be used for free by anyone, and is currently being utilized in more than 30 languages for various purposes, such as monitoring air pollution in China and mapping the poorest segment of the population in Paraguay. "Other people are coming up with a stream of ideas that we never envisioned," says Rotich. "This is where the openness of the Internet truly comes into play."

 

Journalists who will report on the election have also been developing a new platform of their own. The number of journalists are few for a country as vast as Kenya. This is where a website launched by Dickens Olewe, 31, digital manager for the country's third largest newspaper, The Star, can come into play. It allows readers to upload photos from the election taken with their cellphones. There are also plans for an aerial photography project that will utilize unmanned drone aircraft. It could also be used when disastrous flooding occurs, or in war zones where it is difficult for journalists to enter. In sub-Saharan Africa, the gross national income per capita is only around $1,200. However, according to the World Bank, the number of cellphone subscriptions per 100 people has risen rapidly from 12 in 2005 to 45 in 2010.

 

Despite this, Kenya has become one of Africa's IT leaders with accomplishments that include M-Pesa, a service that enables money to be transferred using cellphone text messages. It is also the home of iHub, an incubation zone for IT companies in Nairobi where the offices of Rotich and her Ushahidi colleagues are based. "This is Nairobi's Silicon Valley," says iHub manager Jimmy Gitonga, 44, proudly. Around 50 new ventures have taken off from this facility, which was created with financial support from IT companies.

 

In mid-January, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt traveled to Nairobi soon after visiting North Korea. He toured five African nations in total, including newly independent South Sudan and economically burgeoning Rwanda, and later made the following statement on his personal blog: "Nairobi has emerged as a serious tech hub and may become the African leader." This year, Google established a website that gathered information on candidates in the Kenyan general election. It also worked in cooperation with the government body that conducted the election, and supported the creation of a voter registration system for cellphone users. The company also intends to provide funding for The Star's drone project. "Google has a strong interest in Ushahidi and its mapping technology," says Macharia Gaitho, managing editor of Kenya's largest newspaper, Daily Nation. "They've come here to do business, not operate a charity scheme."

From http://ajw.asahi.com/ 03/31/2013

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RUSSIA: Ratifying Personal Data Protection “Convention 108”

 

The Russian Federation today strengthened its commitment to the protection of personal data by ratifying the Convention for the protection of individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, also known as “Convention 108”. Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland received Russia´s instrument of accession from the Permanent Representative and Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe Alexander Alekseev. The Convention is today the only legally binding international instrument in its field. Open to any country, it has the potential to become a global standard, providing legal certainty and predictability in international relations. “Convention 108” grants individuals the right to the protection of their personal data, aiming also to prevent any abuses which may accompany the processing of these data. The treaty will enter into force in respect of the Russian Federation on 1 September 2013. Russia is the 46th state to become a party to the convention.

 

Created in 1981, “Convention 108” has become the backbone of personal data protection legislation in Europe and beyond. It was drafted in a technologically neutral style, which enables its provisions to be fully valid today, regardless of technological developments. The text is currently being updated to ensure that its data protection principles are still valid for new tools and practices. The convention establishes a number of principles for states to transpose into their domestic legislation to ensure that data is processed fairly and through procedures established by law, for a specific purpose, that it is stored for no longer than is required for this purpose, and that individuals have a right to have access, rectify or erase their data. An additional protocol requires each party to establish an independent authority to ensure compliance with data protection principles and lays down rules on trans-border data flows.

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 05/15/2013

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UK: National Cyber Crime Unit in October; Communications Data Bill Confirmed

 

James Brokenshire, the UK’s minister for security, yesterday outlined his view of the cyber threat, and the steps that the UK government is taking to counter it, in a speech at the Chartered Institute for IT. Much of the speech would have been of little interest to his direct IT audience, but was used, as happens in all such political speeches, to talk to the wider population. He outlined the threat in broad terms and highlighted some of law enforcement’s recent successes against cyber crime. Three items of particular relevance emerged. The first is that the planned new National Cyber Crime Unit, born from an amalgamation of the Met’s Police Central e-Crime Unit and the Serious Organised Crime Unit (SOCA) is on course for an official launch in October. “At the heart of our vision for how we can tackle cyber crime more effectively,” said Brokenshire, “is the National Cyber Crime Unit.” He said that it has been operational in ‘shadow’ form since the beginning of March, and that co-operation between the PCeU and SOCA is already having effect.

 

“This joint working,” he explained, “has already led to arrests against those involved in a phishing scam against the UK banking system and its customers, and a criminal network, linked to established UK organised crime groups, concentrated on high value fraud on both UK and international corporate victims.” A second feature was an apparent about-turn in government thinking on an international cyber crime treaty. Last year the Foreign Secretary William Hague called for just that. Brokenshire’s thinking is that the existing Budapest Convention is as good as we’re likely to get. “We do not believe that any new treaty would be any more effective,” he announced. It is also noticeable that the threats outlined by Brokenshire are almost entirely ‘criminal’ rather than state-sponsored – there was no Chinese-threat rhetoric like that currently in the US. In fact, neither ‘China’ nor ‘Chinese’ appear in the speech at all; and the direct terrorist threat is downplayed: “To date, terrorists have not seen cyber-attack as an important means of conducting their actions,” but he pointedly added, “we and other governments are very mindful of the fact that this could change.”

 

This provided the perfect introduction to the third feature: the Communications Data Bill. This proposed bill has been roundly criticized by civil rights activists – and many members of parliament. It has been dubbed a ‘Snoopers’ Charter’; so Brokenshire prepared his ground with, “we must ensure that improved security and tackling terrorist threats does not come at the expense of human rights. Our threshold is therefore high, ensuring that freedom of expression and speech are not compromised.” But the Communications Data Bill will proceed. “We remain committed to introducing the Bill at the earliest possible opportunity.” He explained that it is “about who was communicating, when, from where, how and with whom; it is the context but not the content of a communication;” and that it “is a vital tool” that “enables the police to build a picture of the activities, contacts and whereabouts of a person who is under investigation.”

 

It is unlikely that activists will be convinced. Last month, based on the information that the Communications Data Bill will provide to law enforcement, “it was revealed Parliamentarians have been visiting an ‘adulterous affairs’ website more times in a single month than the official websites for the Treasury, Ministry of Justice and Department for Education. That’s 52,000 hits in seven months for ‘Out of Town Affairs’,” reported Big Brother Watch. This is used to highlight the problems with the Communications Data Bill – the IP address doesn’t specify which parliamentarians are ‘guilty’, so implicates all; but at the same time the communications data specifies the content: “it’s still pretty obvious what you’ve been doing!”

From http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/ 03/15/2013

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LATIN AMERICA: Cuba Approves Internet Domain Rules          

 

The Cuban government has approved a set of guidelines on internet domain names, according to a decree published Thursday. The guidelines establish a system for the distribution and registration of domain names for all government bodies and other agencies, the decree said. The rules were aimed at ensuring the internet domain name system is a "distributed, hierarchical, and scalable service with a decentralized control," it said. The approval of the guidelines indicates Cuba's internet capacity is bound to expand, as the government said an underwater fiber-optic network, set up with Venezuela in 2011 as an alternative to satellite internet service, is currently undergoing "traffic tests." Once in full operation, the network is expected to greatly expand the internet capacity of the island country, which has been forced to access internet through a much slower and more expensive satellite connection because of the U.S.-led embargo against it.

From http://english.news.cn 04/12/2013

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NORTH AMERICA: Canada 9th in Cloud Regulations - Industry Group

 

The country still has to fix its cybercrime law to make cloud computing more attractive for organizations, says The Software Alliance. Canada ranks ninth among 24 nations whose laws and regulations encourage cloud computing, according to an association of some of the biggest names in information technology. And while ninth doesn’t make it a leader, the country has moved up three places since the BSA-The Software Alliance compiled its first scorecard a year ago. “I don’t think (Canada’s) cybercrime laws are fully aligned with the Budapest Convention, and they’re not as far reaching as some countries,” said Chris Hopfensperger, technology policy counsel for the alliance. “We would like to see a little more comprehensive coverage in those areas.” On the other hand the alliance recognizes that “significant law reform in intellectual property,” took place here.

 

Alliance members include Oracle Corp., Microsoft Corp., Adobe, IBM Corp., Autodesk and Intel Corp. It promotes the software industry, lobbying for protection of intellectual property including anti-piracy laws, data security and opening markets to barrier-free trade. Just before the alliance’s report was published the Harper government introduced Bill C-56 to amend the Copyright Act. Canada is a signatory to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, which came into force in 2004. However, the Web site of the Council of Europe’s treaty office indicates Canada hasn’t ratified the document yet.The alliance argues that organizations and individuals won’t fully accept cloud computing until they are confident private information stored in the cloud won’t be used or disclosed by a service provider “unexpected ways.”

 

In particular the alliance says government laws and regulations should be predictable, transparent and should impose restrictions such as registration requirements for data controllers and cross-border data transfers. Some European Union countries have these requirements, the report noted. It also credited Canada among the countries that score well in having privacy rules that don’t include “onerous registration requirements.” According to a number of industry experts Canadian organizations are cautious about using cloud providers if there’s any chance of personal data being stored outside the country. This is in part because of fears that American officials could access data through the U.S. Patriot Act.

From http://www.itworldcanada.com/ 03/11/2013

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U.S.: Coming in March - Biggest Fed IT Acquisition Overhaul Plan Since 1996

 

House Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., plans to introduce legislation to overhaul the way the government buys information technology by the time Congress breaks for its spring recess in late March, he said during a hearing Wednesday. Issa first floated the proposed IT reboot in September and has been gathering input from industry and government IT and acquisition workers since then. The Federal IT Reform Act would give agency chief information officers full budget authority including the ability to shift funds from one project to another based on particular needs. It would also gather experts in certain acquisition fields into centers of excellence where they could advise their peers and do more IT purchasing on a governmentwide basis. The government’s $80 billion in annual IT purchases has been plagued by cost overruns and missed deadlines. IT officials including federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel have focused on chopping IT projects up into more manageable pieces so technology doesn’t outpace a project by the time it’s completed.

 

Issa, VanRoekel and others have touted technology’s ability to lower the overall cost of government by making operations more efficient and reducing the need for travel. “Ultimately IT is the toll we pay to better spend $3.5 trillion,” Issa said. “It’s not about the $80 billion we spend on IT.” Issa’s reform proposal received cautious praise from industry representatives during Wednesday’s hearing and from Daniel Gordon, associate dean for government procurement law studies at George Washington University and former administrator of the White House Office of Federal Procurement Policy. The bill also won praise from Oversight’s ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and the ranking Democrat on its Government Operations Subcommittee Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. Connolly’s district includes major government IT contractors. Gordon said he’d like to see more focus on training acquisition staffs in the final version of the bill and questioned whether legislation was too blunt an instrument for large scale management reforms. Many acquisition inefficiencies are also caused by budget uncertainty emanating from Congress, he said.

 

The final bill should also spell out precisely which types of “commodity IT” services could be managed centrally, said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, an industry group. Homeland Security Department CIO Richard Spires did not endorse the proposal but said the government would benefit from sharing procurement best practices more widely. Spires also did not endorse the proposal for CIO budget authority but said it was “one model to look at.” VanRoekel said he did not think additional legislation was necessary to reform the IT procurement process during a January hearing that touched on Issa’s proposed bill. Issa said his bill also will call for the title CIO to be reserved for just one person at each agency. There are 243 CIOs across government now, including 35 at the Transportation Department alone, he said. The excessive use of the title diminishes its authority, he said.

 

“This is a single point of accountability with the title of chief -- someone who can say ‘I’ve got $6 billion and I’ll be darned if I’ll waste it,’” he said. Wednesday’s hearing regularly turned to the plight of federal acquisition workers who may face furloughs on Friday if Congress and the White House don’t reach a deal to avoid a slate of automatic spending cuts known as sequestration. Gordon charged that federal employees are too often scapegoated for acquisition failures, which makes them wary of taking risks to make smarter purchasing decisions. “They’re scared of getting in trouble for getting something that’s better even though it costs more money,” he said. “We need to change the atmosphere of fear where people don’t feel empowered, they don’t feel trusted.”

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 02/27/2013

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Digital Government Strategy – Mobile Device Management

 

Last May, we released the Digital Government Strategy as part of the President’s directive to build a 21st Century Government that delivers better services to the American people. A key objective of the strategy is to enable an increasingly mobile workforce to access services anywhere, anytime, on any device. As we adjust to this new digital world, we need to seize the opportunity to procure and manage devices, applications, and data in smart, secure and affordable ways. We are making great progress on that front and thanks to the hard work of the General Services Administration (GSA) we are a step closer to establishing a government-wide mobile device management (MDM) program. The program’s goal is to identify existing solutions and contract vehicles that will enable agencies to provision and secure devices, authenticate users, deploy apps and access data. The development of MDM solutions, and their adoption in agencies, is still in the early stages. This gives the government a small window of opportunity to avoid fragmented buying across Federal agencies and programs, and help shape this emerging space to meet the broadest needs. To that end, GSA has worked with agency representatives across government and industry partners to identify the Government’s current and potential MDM requirements. GSA recently released a Request for Technical Capabilities on FedBizOpps (see Figure 1 below) that aims to identify existing solutions that meet the greatest governmental need. The output of this exercise will be an objective review of vendors’ capabilities and insights to help agencies with market research so that they buy capabilities that match their strategy on mobile platforms. Responses are due on March 8th, and we look forward to see a robust response from the vendor community as we continue to shape our approach to mobility management. As always, I thank you for your commitment to delivering for the American people.

From https://cio.gov/ 02/27/2013

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CIO Council Harnessing Growing List of 'World Class' IT Programs

 

The Federal Chief Information Officers Council is collecting information on dozens of examples where agencies have "world-class" IT management practices. It's part of an effort to more broadly share good ideas and case studies throughout the government through a Best Practices database. The CIO Council launched this effort in 2012. The council soon will be adding 25 more examples of federal programs that not only succeeded, but beat expectations in serving citizens or saving money or proving what's possible. ACT-IAC awarded five programs winners in the 12th annual Excellence.gov awards, and all 25 finalists soon will be a part of that critical mass the council is creating. "We are trying to take the good work you've done and figure out how do we bring that back so it's more than just a nice day, with a nice set of awards that are given to the winners, but that we are using that knowledge base and infusing that back in to how we better ourselves across the federal government," said Richard Spires, the CIO at the Homeland Security Department and vice chairman of the council, during a speech Tuesday at the awards ceremony in Washington. "Through the management best practices committee of the Federal CIO Council, we're pushing hard. I view it as a pockets-of-excellence issue. We've got pockets of excellence throughout the federal government. We are world class. Anything you pick, you can find it in the federal government. It's just too bad that the world class is just in these pockets. We have to figure out how we can leverage these pockets in a more meaningful way."

 

USDA joins the database

Spires said the management best practices committee wants to highlight these 25 projects so others can take advantage of the work. "We're hoping, working with ACT-IAC, that we can harvest these projects," he said. "So the good work you are doing hopefully has a legacy well beyond your agency, well beyond your particular project, but something that could even influence even all of federal government IT. That is certainly where we are trying to go with this." One such project is the Agriculture Department's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion's SuperTracker online tool. It received the top award in the Excellence in Enhancing the Customer Experience category. SuperTracker is a free Web application that provides users with diet and activity tracking based on USDA's dietary guidelines. Robert Post, the associate executive director of CNPP, said in just over a year, SuperTracker has more than 2 million users, including dieticians, school teachers and parents. "We had an experience at USDA in building resources and online tools, and we knew from getting consumers engaged in the work we do, the kinds of things that would really attract them, hold their attention and be helpful," Post said after the Excellence.gov awards event. "Through that experience, we built a multi-tiered engagement approach that you can get on. You can tool around. You can learn about foods, their nutrient contents. You can get reports about what foods are made of in terms of their sodium level, their sugars and where you are getting your vitamins and minerals for the day. And you can get even deeper in the features and capabilities of the tool."

 

Government, industry collaboration

USDA learned over the years that giving citizens the ability to compare foods in a straightforward way, and then go deeper into what they eat and how healthy they are were among the most important lessons applied to SuperTracker. Post said CNPP surveyed and talked to health professionals, dieticians and other stakeholders about how the tool should work and what capabilities it should include. "It's all built on providing information around the healthy eating patterns in the dietary guidelines for Americans," he said. "Our challenge was putting all that information in an intuitive way. Personalization, being interactive, we needed to build the capabilities in there." The bureau also has enhanced the tool over the past year with new features such as letting users put in the calorie levels they want to achieve and personalize the food they eat so if they eat the same breakfast every day, it's easy to put that information in. CNPP worked internally and with a vendor to create the online tool. "The knowledge base and content is derived from the fantastic folks, what we call our SuperTracker team, at the center where we've got these nutritionists who have a good foundation for IT to really bring nutrition into a really interactive, personalized approach," Post said.

From http://www.federalnewsradio.com/ 03/06/2013

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4 U.S. Internet Laws You Should Know

 

If you company has facilities in the United States or is doing business in the country, your organization could be impacted by these four American laws that deal with digital information and the Internet. In a recent article, online technology publication Networkworld.com listed four laws that are either being actively debated or expected to come up for consideration by U.S. lawmakers: Electronic Communication Privacy Act (ECPA) – Passed in 1986, this lawful access legislation sets the standards on how the government can access digital information of citizens. ECPA empowers the government to obtain access, with only a subpoena and not a warrant, to digital communication such as email, Facebook messages, data in public cloud databases and other digital files that are 180 days old. A part of the law also states that the government has access to cell phones using GPS tracking.

 

There are moves to update the law. Last year the Senate Judicary Committee passed an update to ECPA but that proposed act failed to reach a vote on the Senate floor. The House of Representatives filed an update to ECPA last month and that is expected to be debated soon. Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act (CISPA) – The proposed CISPA dictates how companies shares with the government data concerning cyber threats. The information turned over the companies goes to the National Security Administration which is a military division of the government. Opponents of the law are concerned that there is little transparency on what the NSA does and so they are worried CISPA does not provide adequate privacy protection. CISPA has gained bipartisan support. It is to be debated in by legislators within the next few months.

 

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) – The CFAA makes it a crime to access and share protected information. For years, organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have called for CFAA reforms to reduce penalties for CFAA violations and create clearer definitions of what a CFAA breach is. Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Reddit was facing prosecution for a CFAA violation when he committed suicide this year. Trans Pacific-Partnership Agreement (TPP) – The TPP deals with digital copyright laws. The agreement involves the U.S. Peru, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and New Zealand. Canada and Japan are expected to be part of the agreement soon. The TPP could see U.S. intellectual property standards reinforced and extended to other countries. Digital rights groups are worried the TPP will result in restrictions to so-called “fair use” of copyrighted content. They are also concerned that much of the TPP discussions and held in secret.

From http://www.itworldcanada.com/ 03/12/2013

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California Technology Agency to Release IT Procurement Strategy

 

A new state strategy on the way California conducts IT procurements will be out soon, California Technology Agency Secretary Carlos Ramos, pictured above, said in an interview that aired on Thursday. “We’ve developed a report with some recommendations on actual improvements, and that report should be forthcoming relatively soon, in which we are going to report to the Legislature, here’s the administration’s plan on how to improve procurements,” said Ramos, who also noted that the Department of General Services has been working on its own effort to improve contract model terms and conditions. Last summer after Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1498 (Buchanan), which called for a plan to migrate the authority to purchase IT goods and services to the California Technology Agency, the administration convened a working group of state employees with backgrounds in technology, project management and state contracting to “figure a new model on how to do procurements going forward,” Ramos told Techwire’s Michelle Kennedy.

 

The administration also reached out to the vendor community and other stakeholder groups, according to Ramos,who said common complaints about the state procurement process are that it’s complex, expensive and time-consuming, limiting vendor competition. Meanwhile, the California Technology Agency today released its strategic plan for 2013 which includes goal number one as “expanding online services, increasing access from mobile devices, creating innovative business systems and bridging the digital divide by increasing digital literacy and access to broadband connectivity.” Also today, members of the Budget Subcommittee No. 4 On State Administration questioned the State Controller’s Office about the 21st Century Project which made headlines recently when the agency cancelled a $90 million contract with Pennsylvania-based SAP because of errors and ongoing problems in a pilot of the new the system.

 

“Can you reassure me that we didn’t just throw away $262 million,” said Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo), who wanted to know if the state can leverage what the project has developed thus far. “I believe that is what our assessment will show, we are going to bring in somebody to look at what SAP has built to make sure that it’s actually scalable for the population of California,” responded Jim Lombard, SCO’s chief administrative officer. Lombard said his office is working closely with the Technology Agency and the Department of Finance, along with representatives of other agencies on a steering committee in charge of governing the project, which is currently paused pending independent reviews to assess the what went wrong.

From http://www.govtech.com/ 03/20/2013

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Oversight Committee Passes IT Reform Act, Giving CIOs Budget Authority

 

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee unanimously passed legislation on Wednesday that would mark the most significant reform in more than a decade to the way the government purchases information technology. The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act would make agency chief information officers presidential appointees. It would also grant them authority to shift funding between technology projects, a power now only granted to the Veterans Affairs Department CIO. The legislation was jointly sponsored by Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., ranking member of the committee's government operations panel. It’s now on its way to the full House for consideration. Complementary legislation has not yet been introduced in the Senate. The IT Reform Act could save 10 times the $80 billion the government spends on IT annually by reducing government’s reliance on outdated IT systems, by helping agencies make smarter decisions about new purchases and by raising the government’s use of bulk purchasing and interoperable systems, Issa said during Wednesday’s committee business meeting.

 

The bill also would require that only one person in each agency holds the title CIO and that that CIO has a direct line to the agency secretary on important matters. Having a single agency CIO will make that official more accountable, Issa and Connolly both said, noting that some agencies now have more than a dozen CIOs which dilutes that title’s power. Connolly called the IT Reform Act “some of the most groundbreaking legislation of the past 20 years” related to government acquisition Wednesday and praised Issa for developing the legislation in a bipartisan fashion. Issa floated an earlier version of the IT reform Act in September 2012, which he and Connolly revised significantly after collecting feedback from government and industry officials. Industry groups, including TechAmerica, refused to support the initial bill draft, claiming it created unnecessary bureaucracy and privileged open source software over competing proprietary software. Those groups offered softer criticism of the bill draft that passed the oversight committee Tuesday, saying some sections of the bill are redundant and other sections haven’t been sufficiently reviewed by industry.

 

In testimony before the oversight committee in January, federal CIO Steven VanRoekel said he does not believe new legislation is necessary to improve federal IT performance. Issa plans to continue gathering public feedback on the legislation before it reaches the House floor, he said, specifically leaving the door open to revising the language regarding open source software. Nextgov, in cooperation with committee staff, has created a Web page where users can comment on the bill. He noted that it’s important that the final bill encourages agencies to consider open source as an option, he said, but open source should not receive a competitive advantage. “The window for feedback is not shut,” he said, “but it is time to advance to the next stage.”

 

The reform act also would:

■Create a collection of agency-based Assisted Acquisition Centers of Excellence that other agencies may consult regarding particular categories of IT purchases.

■Build a Federal Infrastructure and Common Application Collaboration Center based inside the Office of Management and Budget that would serve as a “tiger team” to assist agencies with tricky acquisitions.

■Promote broader use of “bid to price” contracts in which an agency states the price it plans to pay for a good or service and then invites vendors to compete based on quality.

■Broaden the government’s cadre of IT and acquisition experts, partly by mandating new plans from OMB to make those jobs attractive to people outside government and to demonstrate a clear career path in the fields.

■Give agency chief information officers flexibility to establish working capital funds to help pay for the transition to cloud-based computing services.

■Require agencies to report more fully on the cost savings achieved by consolidating federal data centers.

■Mandate that roughly 80 percent of federal IT investments are tracked on the Federal IT Dashboard, compared with about 50 percent that are tracked on the dashboard currently.

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 03/20/2013

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Alabama Gov. Signs Legislation to Streamline State IT

 

On March 21, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed several pieces of legislation intended to increase efficiency across government agencies -- one of which, SB 117, was focused on streamlining state IT. SB 117 establishes the position of Secretary of Information Technology, responsible for identifying ways to save money and improve coordination among the state’s IT networks. The Secretary of IT will also develop and implement a responsible plan to coordinate the purchasing, management and use of IT across state agencies, according to a press release from the state. “Our Secretary of Information Technology will help us organize IT to make it more efficient, to save taxpayer dollars and to make it more secure,” said Bentley, pictured at left. “By improving coordination, we can make sure we’re spending money wisely and saving money where we can." Currently, there is little coordination of state-level IT policy, which has resulted in incompatible IT systems. In addition, the state has been unable to realize cost-savings benefits that come from buying in bulk across state agencies. Bentley will appoint the Secretary of Information Technology in the near future, according to the state, and a legislative oversight committee will review the appointee's performance. Sen. Phil Williams, who sponsored the legislation, underscored the importance of the state having someone to make sure IT is operating as efficiently as possible. “The signing of this bill marks a positive step toward significant cost savings for state IT functions," Williams said.

From http://www.govtech.com/ 03/22/2013

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US Senate Passes Internet Sales Tax Proposal

 

The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly passed a nonbinding proposal to allow states to collect sales tax on Internet sellers that have no presence within their borders. The proposal was an amendment to a 2014 budget bill that the Senate debated Friday. It was pushed by Senators Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, and Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and was designed to give backers a sense of whether they had enough votes to push forward with final legislation to impose an Internet sales tax. The vote showed they have plenty of backing to overcome any filibuster seeking to block a final sales tax bill. Sixty votes are needed to overcome a filibuster, and senators voted 75-24 for the nonbinding resolution. The Enzi and Durbin amendment would allow the Senate Budget Committee to include the sales tax in the budget, providing it does not increase the federal deficit. The budget amendment is an initial step toward allowing state and local governments to collect sales taxes from out-of-state retailers who sell more than US$1 million worth of products in a year over the Internet. Enzi and Durbin are the lead sponsors of the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would still have to pass through Congress before a tax is imposed.

 

Forty-six U.S. states now have sales taxes, but a 1992 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited states from collecting sales tax from catalog sellers because of the burden it would place on the sellers. The court, however, left it up to Congress to allow states to collect sales taxes on remote sales if the states created a streamlined tax collection system.All states with sales taxes require Internet shoppers to report on their Internet purchases and pay taxes, but the rules are not well-known and few shoppers comply. Supporters of the amendment said the current tax system isn't fair to brick-and-mortar businesses, which have to collect sales taxes from their local shoppers. Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, argued against the amendment, saying it would encourage U.S. Internet sellers to move overseas, where it's tougher for states to collect sales taxes. "The Internet is now the shipping lane of the 21st century, and foreign retailers are going to get an advantage," he said. But past arguments against the sales tax suggesting e-commerce was in its infancy and needed to be protected are no longer true, Durbin said. "You're asking for a safe haven here, an advantage over a lot of good small businesses in my state," he said.

From http://news.idg.no/ 03/23/2013

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US Congress Panel Approves Internet Freedom Bill

 

A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee has voted to approve a bill that would make it official U.S. policy to promote an Internet "free from government control," with promises that the Republican majority would work with critics of the bill's wording. The House Energy and Commerce Committee's communications subcommittee approved the Internet freedom bill, an attempt to discourage other countries from advocating for control of the Internet by the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union and other international agencies. Some trade groups and subcommittee Democrats had raised concerns that the bill would allow telecom carriers to mount new challenges to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and prevent law enforcement agencies from prosecuting cybercriminals. But Representative Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican and subcommittee chairman, said he didn't intend for the bill to address domestic Internet policy. Although Walden is opposed to the FCC's net neutrality rules, he said a congressional policy statement cannot force an agency to change its rules. "This legislation neither requires nor authorizes the FCC to take any action," said Walden, sponsor of the bill.

 

Nevertheless, Walden promised subcommittee Democrats that he would entertain new language before the bill heads to the full Energy and Commerce Committee for a vote. The bill, similar to a sense-of-Congress resolution that passed last year before the ITU's World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), would make it official U.S. government policy to "promote a global Internet free from government control and to preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet." After WCIT, countries will continue to push for control of the Internet by international agencies, Walden predicted. It's important for Congress to take a strong stand against that effort, he said. Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, welcomed Walden's offer of compromise. It's important for the committee to speak with one voice against international governmental control of the Internet, she said. A bipartisan agreement "will strengthen the hands of our diplomats in their negotiations," she said.

From http://news.idg.no/ 04/11/2013

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House Approves FISMA Modernization Bill, Two Other Cyber Bills

 

The House passed three cybersecurity bills Tuesday, including the much-needed update to the Federal Information Security Management Act. But the one House bill many believe would be most worthwhile, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), is stuck in the same debate whirlpool as last session and faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. The main sticking point in CISPA for the administration and privacy and civil liberties groups is around how the bill would require the private sector to protect information when shared with the government. "We have long said that information sharing improvements are essential to effective legislation, but they must include proper privacy and civil liberties protections, reinforce the appropriate roles of civilian and intelligence agencies, and include targeted liability protections," said Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, in an emailed statement. "Under the leadership of the chairman and ranking member, the [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] adopted several amendments to H.R. 624 (CISPA) in a good faith effort to incorporate some of the administration's important substantive concerns. However, CISPA as reported still does not address these fundamental priorities adequately."

 

The White House's Statement of Administration Policy said the bill falls short because it "does not require private entities to take reasonable steps to remove irrelevant personal information when sending cybersecurity data to the government or other private sector entities. Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held accountable — and not granted immunity — for failing to safeguard personal information adequately." The House Rules Committee today decided how to move forward with amendments, but the full chamber didn't debate or vote on the bill. The lower chamber, however, did debate and vote on three other cyber bills. The FISMA Modernization Act passed easily 416-0. This was the second session in a row the full body passed the update. Last year, the Senate included FISMA updates as part of the comprehensive cybersecurity bill that died under its own weight. "H.R. 1163 has many authors … but it also has [the support of] every committee chairman and every ranking member in the House," said Rep. Darrell Issa (R- Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and one of the main sponsors of the bill, during the floor discussion. "This bipartisan legislation will address the shortcomings of FISMA by incorporating recent technological innovations, and enhance and strengthen the current framework that protects federal information technology systems."

 

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), another major co-sponsor of the bill, said with the ever-increasing number of cyber attacks against federal systems, 48,562 in fiscal 2012, which marks a 782 percent increase over a six-year period, shows the need for the bill. "This legislation is desperately needed to address a looming and critical threat to our nation's economic and national security," he said. The House also passed H.R. 756, the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2013, and H.R. 967, the Advancing America's Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act of 2013, with little debate or challenge. Monday night, the House also debated and approved several other federal management related bills, including the Government Accountability Office Improvement Act and H.R. 882, the Contracting and Tax Accountability Act of 2013. But H.R. 249, the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2013, which would have required agencies to fire federal employees who were "seriously delinquent" in paying their taxes, did not get the necessary two-thirds majority needed to pass under the rules of the House for this particular vote, though it passed by total number of votes 250-159. The National Treasury Employees Union praised the House for not passing the employee tax accountability bill. Colleen Kelley, NTEU's president, said in a statement that while NTEU strongly supports the idea that everyone should meet his or her tax obligation, the existing processes provide for disciplinary actions by federal agencies ranging from counseling to removal for failing to satisfy federal, state or local tax obligations. Additionally, the IRS also could levy up to 15 percent of certain federal payments, including federal salaries, for tax debts.

From http://www.federalnewsradio.com/ 04/17/2013

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Many CIOs Support IT Reform Legislation

 

Many government chief information officers think a proposed congressional overhaul that would give them broader authority over how their agencies buy information technology is a “step in the right direction,” according to TechAmerica’s CIO Insights survey released Thursday. CIOs aren’t all of one mind, though, about provisions of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act that would give them authority to shift IT budget priorities and to cut funding to over budget or underperforming projects, Grant Thornton Principal George DelPrete said. Grant Thornton sponsored the survey with TechAmerica. In congressional testimony, CIOs have typically avoided saying whether such budget authority would be helpful. Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel has said authority over IT spending is less important than CIOs having “a seat at the table” during agency mission discussions with other high ranking officials.

 

“In some departments, the amount of IT spending [CIOs] control is as low as 1 percent,” DelPrete said, “so it’s hard to make them accountable for that. [But] not all of the folks we interviewed felt you could give complete control to a departmental CIO so the one-size-fits-all model is not going to work. CIOs need a mix of budget visibility, accountability and responsibility.” One suggestion, DelPrete added, “was perhaps departmental CIOs could be responsible for the infrastructure, commodity enterprise applications and software, and program CIOs could control mission applications.” The survey was based on in-person interviews with government CIOs, information resources management officials, and relevant congressional staffers. All answers were anonymous in the final report.

 

The survey also found:

■Despite years of attempts to shift more IT spending to new initiatives, 76 percent of spending still goes to the operation and maintenance of existing systems.

■CIOs praised PortfolioStat, a top-to-bottom review of spending on commodity IT such as phone and Internet service, for rationalizing their technology portfolios. Several CIOs said it’s too early to tell whether the program will result in lower IT spending in the long term.

■The 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management, introduced by former federal CIO Vivek Kundra in 2010, is no longer driving agency IT priorities, CIOs said. They praised the plan, though, for its emphasis on consolidating federal data centers and moving government computing to the cloud, both of which remain major priorities. In the survey, 94 percent of respondents said their agency had adopted or will adopt cloud services.

■CIOs consider themselves unprepared to manage a new crop of analysis tools focused on culling meaning from unstructured data such as video and sensor information. On a scale of 1 to 5, 78 percent of respondents rated their maturity with analytics at 3 or less, the survey said.

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 05/03/2013

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CHINA: New National Legislature Sees More Diversity

 

More migrant workers and women, as well as younger people, have been elected to the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), China's national legislature, while fewer government and Party officials have won places. The 11th NPC Standing Committee on Wednesday confirmed the credentials of all 2,987 elected deputies. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, and the other six members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee - Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli - were elected as new NPC deputies. The number of farmers-turned migrant workers elected to the 12th NPC has notably increased, according to the NPC Standing Committee. A total of 401 workers and farmers have been elected deputies. They comprise 13.42 percent of the total, up 5.18 percentage points from the 11th NPC, the Standing Committee announced. The younger generation has also entered the national legislature, with two deputies born after 1990 and 74 born after 1980. Chen Ruolin, the youngest deputy, was born in December 1992. She won a gold medal in the women's synchronized 10-meter platform diving competition at the London Olympic Games in 2012. Tie Feiyan, also born in 1992, is a road toll collector in southwest China's Yunnan Province. Chinese netizens hailed her as "the most beautiful girl born after 1990," as she once rescued people from drowning and has adopted an abandoned infant. The number of female deputies has risen to 699, accounting for 23.4 percent of the total. The proportion rose 2.07 percentage points from a year earlier.

 

Moreover, 1,042, or 34.88 percent of the 12th NPC deputies, are government officials and leading Party cadres, down 6.93 percentage points from the 11th NPC. Such a decrease will help to "improve the representation of the people, motivate political participation at grass-roots levels, nurture more practical government decisions and better reflect the people's will, wishes and interests," said Xue Qingchao, researcher with the Party History Research Center of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. All the deputies were elected from 35 election units representing 34 Chinese regions and the People's Liberation Army in December and January. The biggest difference between this election and previous elections is that deputies were elected this year using the same population ratio for both rural and urban areas, said Wang Wanbin, deputy secretary general of the NPC Standing Committee. Each rural NPC deputy used to represent a population eight times that of an urban deputy between the 1950s and the 1990s, when the country had a dominating rural population. Thanks to fast urbanization, the representation ratio reduced to four times after the Electoral Law was revised in 1995 and remained the same under the 2010 amendment.

 

This change helps to spread the notion of upholding equality during elections, according to Han Dayuan, dean of the Law School of Renmin University of China. "It will contribute to the country's rural-urban integration, greatly encourage farmers' political participation and speed up the development of democracy. It may also help push forward reform in the household registration system," Han added. This election has also stressed equality among different ethnic groups. According to the 11th NPC Standing Committee, 409, or 13.69 percent of the newly elected deputies, are from the country's 55 ethnic minority groups, with each of these groups represented. Among the elected deputies, there are 36 from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and 12 are from the Macao SAR. All these deputies are patriotic and committed to local communities, upholding the Constitution and the Basic Laws of Hong Kong and Macao and supporting the practice of "one country, two systems," according to the 11th NPC Standing Committee. Thirteen deputies have been elected to represent Taiwan in the 12th NPC. They were born on the mainland and are second-generation Taiwanese, who "support the country's reunification, push forward exchanges across the Taiwan Strait and oppose 'Taiwan independence.'" The 11th NPC Standing Committee held its last bi-monthly session from Monday to Wednesday to prepare for the upcoming first annual session of the 12th NPC, which is scheduled to start on March 5.

 

The session adopted in principle a report on the work of the NPC Standing Committee, which will be submitted to the upcoming session of the 12th NPC for deliberation, said Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, who presided over the session. A draft schedule for the first annual session of the 12th NPC, as well as a draft list of names for the presidium and secretary general, were also adopted. The preparation for the annual session has been smooth and is nearly completed, Wu said. Looking back on the last five years of legislation, Wu said that the 11th NPC and its Standing Committee have exercised their powers in conformity with the law. A socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics has taken shape as scheduled, and it keeps improving, he noted. The 11th NPC and the Standing Committee have supported and supervised the central government, Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate to ensure lawful administration and judicial justice, Wu said. The 11th NPC and the Standing Committee have fulfilled its missions granted by the Party and the people, Wu added.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 02/27/2013

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Plan to Grow Broadband Users

 

CHINA will boost the number of broadband family users by 30 percent, or 60 million, this year under a "Broadband China" project and also add over 100 million 3G phone users in 2013. China will raise the high-speed FTTH (fiber-to-the-home) users by 35 million in 2013 from 94 million by the end of last year. It will also boost the normal home broadband user base by 25 million to 200 million by the end of this year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said yesterday. The increase is part of the "Broadband China" project which seeks to propel China's average broadband bandwidth capacity in urban regions to 20 megabytes per second by 2015, five to 10 times faster than the current level, the ministry said. The project was unveiled in response to several consumer complaints about the low speed and high prices of previous family broadband services. In 2012, the average bandwidth cost dropped 30 percent annually, it said. China, the world's No. 1 telecommunications market, will also add 100 million new 3G phone users this year from 232.8 million 3G users by the end of last year, the ministry said. By 2015, the ministry envisages China to have 450 million 3G users. US-based Nielsen said by the end of last year the 66 percent penetration rate of smartphones in China has surpassed 53 percent of the United States and the UK's 51 percent but slightly behind South Korea's 67 percent.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 02/27/2013

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Online Info Rules Help Promote Social Harmony

 

China's top legislator said Friday that the rules on strengthening online information protection, which were approved by the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee last year, help promote social harmony and stability. "This decision of the Standing Committee is of great significance for promoting social harmony, safeguarding national security and political stability, and ensuring enduring peace and stability of the country," Wu said, when reviewing the work of the 11th NPC Standing Committee over the past five years. The 12-article decision on strengthening online information protection, which has the same legal effect as a law, was adopted by lawmakers at a session of the NPC Standing Committee last December. Wu said the rules aim to ensure the law-based and orderly operation of Internet and protect the security of the electronic information of citizens and corporations. In recent years, although playing an important part in boosting economic and social development, Internet technologies have caused serious problems, said Wu. "There were extensive and loud calls in society for stronger social management of the Internet and crackdown on cyber crime," he said. "NPC deputies also put forth many bills and proposals, and demanded that a law on cyber security be enacted as soon as possible." The NPC Standing Committee thoroughly reviewed practical experience in developing and managing Internet, analyzed other countries' legislation concerning the Internet, and solicited opinions from all sectors, and on this basis used statutory means to protect the security of the electronic information of citizens and legal persons and established the online ID management system, he said.

From http://china.org.cn/ 03/08/2013

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Nation Set to Expand Smart Cities Project

 

China may add another 50 pilot cities to the nation's smart cities project over the next three months, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing Qiu Baoxing, vice-minister of Housing and Urban-Rual Development. In January, the ministry announced the first batch of 90 pilot cities for the project. Most of them were second- and third-tier cities. The project is aimed at advancing the nation's urbanization and industries such as telecommunications and infrastructure. It will drive about 2 trillion yuan ($322 billion) in investment by 2015, according to research from the State Information Center.

From http://china.org.cn/ 03/19/2013 

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Draft Rule on Protecting Personal Data Gets Push

 

Experts are calling on legislators to draw up a personal information protection law as soon as possible to provide a safe online environment under a real-name system.Under a proposed regulation published on the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's website last week, people who apply for fixed-line phone service or buy wireless Internet cards would have to present their identity cards.The move follows the adoption of a real-name registration system for cellphone users about three years ago.The proposal, on which public opinion has been on since April 10 and will continue through May 15, aroused discussion among experts on how to protect privacy in an era of big data.Zhou Hanhua, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' law institute, said it is important that China creates a law to protect personal information or the invasion of privacy on the Internet will get more serious.

 

Although the top legislature published a decision on improving the protection of personal information at the end of 2012, "it is far from enough". Zhou said.The legislative document is not a special law in particular to deal with problems of privacy protection in cyberspace, he said."We just have a legal framework and some basic principles, but all of them are difficult to enforce and cannot threaten enterprises," Zhou said.Telecom companies that do not register and protect users' personal information would be fined up to 30,000 yuan ($4,848) under to the ministry's draft proposal.Only if the personal information protection proposal becomes law will the problem of privacy disclosure be addressed, Zhou said.He told China Daily that some people's online information on certain websites, such as those of medical centers, banks and media companies, have had serious leaks, and what the public knows about the problem might be only the tip of the iceberg.

 

"Collecting users' data and selling the information to others is of great interest to enterprises, which is why many online operators and Internet company employees are still ‘stealing' information," he said.So it is a "must" to establish the law, making clear what personal information is and outlining punishments for online industries that reveal it, he added.Li Yuxiao, a professor at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, echoed Zhou's sentiments, saying the first priority is to define "personal information".Currently, many netizens provide lots of information online when registering an account and shopping on the Internet, but they do not know whether the information is necessary and how it is being used, he said."We need a rule that can not only help netizens understand what kind of information should be presented, but also supervise Web enterprises to legally use what they get from users," he said.

 

Both experts participated in the United States-China Internet Industry Forum in Beijing last week and expressed their concerns over the country's Internet privacy leaks.They said cooperation with the US on personal information protection should be done carefully.The US prefers self-regulation in the online industry, "but that is not suitable for our country", Zhou said, adding that China needs a strict legal provision instead.In addition, the two countries have a different understanding of personal information, "so reaching an agreement on the definition of privacy is vital to establish cooperation", Li added.Zhang Yaoming, deputy director with the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, said protecting netizens' personal information in a real-identity environment is difficult, and China has not found a good way to do so."We cannot deny the real-name system brought benefits for us, such as the ability to crack down on online crimes, but the development of the system has a long way to go," he added.

From http://www.news.cn/ 04/16/2013

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China Mulls Online Shopping Legislation

 

With China's e-commerce market expanding at full speed, the country is for the first time considering amending its consumer rights law to protect online shoppers' rights and interests.The widespread of information technology has allowed the Internet, TV and telephone-based commerce to surge, said Li Shishi, director of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, the country's top legislature.While briefing national lawmakers during a three-day bimonthly legislative session that opened on Tuesday, Li said new shopping forms such as e-shopping differed from conventional consumption, as online shoppers cannot identify the goods' authenticity and are susceptible to deceptive advertisement."Consumers select commodities merely through pictures and text descriptions," he said.The consumer rights law, which was enacted in 1993, does not have stipulations on the protection of consumer rights in online shopping."Consumption patterns, structure and concepts in China have undergone great changes over the past two decades," Li said, adding that amending the law aims to adapt to the new situation in protecting consumer rights.To deal with inadequate commodities or service information in online shopping, the draft amendments stress the protection of consumers' right to knowledge, saying sellers should provide authentic and necessary details of their products or services to e-shoppers.

 

The draft also ensures e-shoppers' right of choice and grants them the right to unilaterally terminate contracts. "Consumers have the right to return goods within seven days and get a refund," according to the proposal."The cooling off period of seven days" allows e-shoppers to change their minds, which is in line with international conventions, said Hu Gang, an expert from the Internet Society of China."Online shoppers can ask for compensation from the e-trade platform where transactions took place if the seller has stopped using the platform," the draft said, adding the platform can claim compensation from the seller after offering compensation to e-shoppers.The move is "significant" as it increases the responsibility of online platforms, which further protects online shoppers' rights, Hu said.China's booming online commerce industry is expected to reap more than 1.1 trillion yuan (about 175 billion U.S. dollars) in revenue in 2012, statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show.The industry has experienced rapid growth in recent years, with its total revenue expanding from 25.8 billion yuan in 2006 to 780 billion in 2011 in China. The growth dwarfed that of many western countries.

 

Taobao, a consumer-to-consumer (C2C) portal similar to eBay, features nearly one billion products and has nearly 500 million registered users. It sells 48,000 products each minute and its maximum daily turnover reached 4.38 billion yuan, according to taobao.com.It's parent company, Alibaba, on track to become the world's largest e-commerce firm, also owns Tmall, a Chinese popular business-to-consumer (B2C) portal like Amazon.Although the draft's Internet shopping stipulations are "detailed and feasible," it mainly covered B2C trade, Hu said, adding currently about 70 percent of online transactions in China are C2C, which needs further regulations to protect e-shoppers' rights.Complaints about online shopping are on the rise in China, with the number surpassing half of all service-related complaints in the capital last year, according to the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce and the city's consumers' association.

 

Cell phones and accessories, garments, domestic appliances and food are the categories that have been complained about most, said Huang Xiaowen, deputy director of the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce.Online shoppers complained that online business runners did not fulfill discount promises or arbitrarily cancel orders. They also complained about late delivery and substandard products, according to Huang.According to a MasterCard Worldwide survey issued last week, the Chinese mainland leads the Asia-Pacific region as the market with the most propensity to shop online, ahead of New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and South Korea.The survey, conducted between November and December 2012, included interviews with 7,011 respondents from 14 markets who were asked questions about their online shopping habits. China's score has increased by four index points from last year's index.Driving these shifts in China are increased confidence in shopping as "people felt more secure while shopping online," according to MasterCard. There is also an emerging view that shopping online is "easy" among 89.5 percent of the Chinese respondents, up from 80.8 percent in 2011.

From http://china.org.cn/ 04/23/2013

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China Clarifies Law to Crackdown on Blackmail

 

Chinese authorities on Friday unveiled a judicial explanation to clarify the seriousness of blackmail cases in order to crackdown on the crime.The nine-article explanation, issued by the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, outlines the amounts of money or property considered "relatively large," "huge," and "extremely huge," which will determine the length of sentence for criminals. Suspects extorting public or private money or property worth between 2,000 yuan (324.4 U.S. dollars) and 5,000 yuan by blackmail, an amount considered "relatively large," will be sentenced to imprisonment of no more than three years, according to the explanation. The threshold range from 2,000 yuan to 5,000 yuan depends on an area's economic and social conditions. For those who have committed blackmail or committed the crime against minors, disabled or seniors, the threshold will be reduced to 1,000 yuan. Extorted money or property worth between 30,000 yuan and 100,000 yuan is considered "huge" and the suspects will receive jail terms ranging from three to 10 years. Those blackmailing more than 300,000 yuan and up to 500,000 yuan will be sentenced to more than 10 years in jail as the amount is "extremely huge," according to the explanation. Officials with the supreme court said the explanation aims to strengthen the crackdown on blackmail, which has become increasingly frequent and widespread in recent years. Some gangs use blackmail to bully and oppress members of the public, officials said. The explanation will take effect from Saturday.

From http://www.news.cn/ 04/27/2013

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JAPAN: Govt Considers Bill to Protect Natl Secrets

The government is considering legislation aimed at safeguarding confidential information linked to diplomacy and national security, a senior official has said. The legislation will stipulate severe penalties for offenders, sources familiar with the matter said. The government is likely to submit the bill to the Diet after the House of Councillors election this summer, a source said Friday. The plan for the legislation was unveiled by Yosuke Isozaki, special adviser to the prime minister, at a meeting of experts held to discuss a proposal for creating the Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council. The previous government led by the Democratic Party of Japan considered a similar national security bill, but failed to submit it to the Diet before the party was ousted from power in national elections last December. The bill reviewed by the DPJ-led government proposed penalties harsher than the prison term of up to one year stipulated in the National Civil Service Law for offenders who leak certain confidential information.

From http://the-japan-news.com 03/31/2013

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Diet Enacts Bill Allowing Online Campaigning in Elections

 

The Diet on Friday passed a bill allowing online campaigning for future elections. The bill, which is an amendment to the 1950 public offices election law, proposed that online campaigning and online voting start with this summer’s House of Councillors (upper house) election. It was passed by the lower house last week. The bill enables election campaigns to use any form of SNS, such as Facebook, Twitter and home pages. The use of email will be restricted to parties and registered candidates only. The bill was one of the first issues Prime Minister Shinzo Abe mentioned after he was elected last December. He said that removing the ban on election campaigning over the Internet would lead to higher voter turnout. That election saw voter turnout fall to a record low 59.3%. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday that he hoped the new bill would get young people interested in politics. To date, electoral laws that predate the Internet era treat anything appearing on a screen as akin to a leaflet, which means it falls under restrictions on how many fliers any nominee can produce. Candidates and their supporters have not been permitted to Tweet, use Facebook, update their websites or even send emails during the official campaign period. They spend two frenetic weeks driving and walking around their districts doing little more than shouting out their names.

From http://www.japantoday.com 04/20/2013

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INDONESIA: Govt Urged to Uphold Human Rights in Regulating Internet

 

A coalition of Indonesian civil society groups wants the government to focus on human rights at an international conference on Internet governance in Bali Island in October. Indonesia has been slated to host the 8th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) from October 21 to 25. The IGF is a series of policy dialogues on Internet governance, bringing together stakeholders, governments, the private sector and NGOs. A representative of the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam), which is a member group of the Indonesian CSO Network for Internet Governance (ID-Config), raised concerns on an increasing number of incidents of illegal filtering and content blocking on the Internet that have hampered the freedom of expression in Indonesia.  Elsam executive director Indriaswati D. Saptaningrum said that the public must ensure that the IGF considered human rights when managing the Internet, adding that she hoped that the forum would help the government to better shape its Internet policies.

 

“There are targets for both the government and the private sector to accelerate the increase in the number of Internet users in Indonesia,” Indriaswati said. “But if regulations are not considered seriously, the impact will be dangerous for our rights.” Indriaswati cited the case of the so-called Minang Atheist, Alexander Aan, who was sentence to two-and-a-half-years’ imprisonment years for blasphemy after he declared himself an atheist on Facebook and the case of Prita Mulyasari, a housewife sued by a hospital for libel after she sent private emails to several friends complaining about the service she received there. Indriaswati said that Elsam agreed that not all Internet users in Indonesia understood the potential of the Internet or its risks. “However, public participation in the cyberspace should be given enough space. What we need is the protection of the Internet users, not user restrictions by tapping or limiting content.”

 

Moreover, Indonesia had no clear regulations on content filtering, she said. “So much content is blocked. The government argues the content is related to porn, violence or even possesses threat to security.” In its “2012 Freedom on the Net” report, US-based Freedom House gave Indonesia a rating of 42 out of 100, an increase from 46 points in 2011. A lower score means more Internet freedom. The report evaluated conditions in 47 nations based on barriers to access, limits on content and violations of user rights. Indriaswati also raised the issue of selling personal data on the Internet. “There are so many SMS for product promotions, although we never give them our numbers.” According to Elsam, the only one article in the 2008 Information and Electronic Transaction Law covered personal data management, albeit inadequately.

 

Meanwhile, Ashwin Sasongko of the Communications and Information Ministry, rebuffed criticism that the ministry had failed to promulgate the existing 2008 Law. “Cyber-ethics are supposed to be in line with the ones in real world. If people cannot curse people in the real world, they should not do it in cyberspace. We all have to stick to such norms,” he said. Wahyudi Djafar of Elsam said that if Ashwin was correct, human rights protections must also cover the Internet, as stated in a UN Human Rights Council resolution. In mid-2012, the council released a resolution that stated that “the rights people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, in accordance with articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 04/03/2013

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PHILIPPINES: City Improves Land Use Plan with GIS

 

The city government of Butuan is working together with Caraga State University to update the city’s current Comprehensive Land Use Plan by using GIS. Butuan is a highly urbanised city located at the north-eastern part of Agusan Valley in Mindanao island. It is subdivided into 86 districts and has a population of 309,709 as per the 2010 Census. According to Vice Mayor Lawrence Fortun, the partnership is vital for the city’s path towards sustainable development as it would help local authorities better improve its urban planning decisions. In addition, it would also help the city government arrive at more accurate projections when quantifying damages and loss during natural calamities, allowing the city government to achieve an effective priority-setting of resources in mitigating risks during such situations. Furthermore, once the new land use plan is made available, it will help in the preparation of the city’s disaster risk reduction plan and climate change adaptation programme.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/01/2013

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RFID to Be Used in ‘Smarter Philippines’ Programme

 

The ICT-Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will be using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology to support initiatives aligned with the ‘Smarter Philippines’ programme, a flagship programme which aims to leverage ICT in several core industries to boost the country’s economy.  ‘Smarter Philippines’ consists of the following components: Smarter Governance, Smarter People, Smarter High-Tech Industry, Smarter Computing, Smarter SMEs, Smarter Agriculture World Development, Smarter Environmental Healthcare, Energy and Transport, Smarter Disaster and Mitigation, Public Safety and Smarter Cities. RFID refers to an electronic device that uses radio waves to speed up the transmission of communication data for the purpose of identifying, locating and sensing the conditions of objects, whether animate and inanimate. “We believe that the RFID technology can complement the DOST’s Smarter Philippines programme, the essence of which is the effective generation, gathering, and analysis of data to enable timely and effective decision making and planning,” said Louis Casambre, Executive Director, ICT-Office.

 

At present, RFIDs are being used in DOST’s project NOAH or Nationwide Operation on Assessment of Hazards. Project NOAH aims to provide reliable and authoritative information about weather conditions in the country. It is designed to be a disaster preparedness system to reduce loss of lives, and damages to properties due to rain-triggered natural hazards. It transmits real-time data on the amount of rainfall, temperature, pressure, humidity and wind speed, direction, and velocity to help decision makers during times of natural calamities. According to Casamabre, RFIDs are crucial for NOAH’s micro-mapping project that uses Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), an equipment designed to survey the entire topography of the Philippines at very high resolution. He explained that smart sensors similar to those being developed by DOST to monitor weather and geological conditions, vehicular traffic flow, soil and water quality, and others will all be RFID devices. “RFID is one of the most ubiquitous technologies in the world today, aside from being an essential component of the global supply chain,” he said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/19/2013

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The Philippines Beefs Up E-Budgeting System

 

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Philippines is pushing ahead the digitisation of budget processes to be done by 2014 as part of supporting the public financial management reforms. DBM Secretary Florencio S Abad addressed this message during the 1st Quarterly Membership Meeting and Seminar of the Philippin Association for Government Budget Administration (PAGBA) held at the Sarabia Manor Hotel.  Abad said that budget submissions will be done electronically starting from 2014, and there will no longer be manual. This digitisation process will help save seven working days for the DBM. “We are currently installing a government integrated financial management information system to enable real-time information on financial transactions,” said Abad.  At the same event, he added that the DBM is also expanding its government e-procurement system towards online bidding.

 

“Next year, we will issue agencies vouchers so that all procurement of common-used supplies can be traced in the government procurement system,” Abad said. The DBM has recently launched an e-payment facility early this year, which has marked the first time in the history of this archipelago country to have this online payment solution for the government. “This will allow us to pay online when we procure supplies through the Landbank of the Philippines,” Abad added. The online payment in the government e-procurement is expected to be the starting point for other services that the government will provide including birth certificates, passports, licenses, among others, according to him.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/04/2013

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The Philippines Seeks IT-Based Proposals to Solve Transport Woes

 

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Land Transportation Franchising & Regulatory Board (LTFRB) are inviting technology firms and other stakeholders to submit IT-based proposals to help them address issues caused by illegal operations of buses and other public utility vehicles, or what is locally known as “colorum”. In its website, the agency expressed interest in exploring the potential of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Global Positioning System (GPS), and Smart Cards to solve this problem. According to an official statement, the primary purposes for this effort are to monitor the movements of both registered and unregistered or unauthorised public utility vehicles, to apprehend illegally-operating vehicles real-time, and to maintain a database containing relevant information on traffic violations, among others. “The colorum problem has many implications – from simple traffic congestion, to commuter safety, environmental pollution, and quality of life. What we’re looking for is an integrated system which makes the best use of progressive technology-based solutions to curb these problem areas,” said DOTC spokesperson Migs Sagcal. One-on-one meetings to discuss project concepts will be held at the DOTC offices on 28 May and 4 June 2013.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/16/2013

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SINGAPORE: Plan to Double Speed of Free WIFI

 

The Singapore Government is planning to improve the wireless infrastructure of the country by expanding and enhancing Singapore’s free wireless broadband programme, Wireless@SG.  Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, said that given the popularity of Wireless@SG and its importance for individuals and businesses to enable services such as cashless payments, the six year old system needs to be updated. He stated that the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) will expand the capacity and speed of Wireless@SG, doubling the speed from 1 MBPS to 2 MBPS. Another update announced was the simplification of the login process for Wireless@SG. Currently, users must register and use a unique ID and password to login every time they wish to use Wireless@SG. The improved Wireless@SG, however, will be able to recognise registered users through their unique SIM cards in smartphones and log in automatically. Ibrahim stated that this will allow users to switch seamlessly from 3G or 4G to Wireless@SG.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/12/2013

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ICT Enabled Work-from-home Pilot Launched in Singapore

 

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is leading a year-long pilot project on home-based work encouraging enterprises to use ICT solutions to create flexible working conditions for employees. The pilot aims to help the 258,000 economically inactive residents between the age of 25 and 54 rejoin the workforce and contribute to Singapore’s economy.  IDA has selected two private sector consortiums to be part of the pilot. The first consortium, covering job functions such as sales, consulting and interior design, will use solutions primarily developed by SingTel. The adoption patterns of home-based workers will be studied, and the packaging of existing products changed to better cater for them. Online storage, collaboration and project management applications will allow the virtual employees to easily share documents and graphic files with the office, and collaborate on projects. Home-based sales executives will use cloud-based call centre technologies to handle enquiries from home.  In addition, Rainforest e-Learning, an SME providing education services, is developing a learning management system to help home-based teachers deliver lessons to students through video conferencing and e-learning using connected devices.

 

According to IDA, the widespread use of broadband and the enhancement of ICT infrastructure in Singapore have made flexible work arrangements more viable than before. IDA’s Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network, a fibre-based ultra-high-speed network, is a major factor enabling this project. SMEs will also have access to SingTel’s myBusiness portal, which aggregates jobs, tenders and requests for proposals from government agencies, helping SMEs get information and come together to bid for jobs or purchase services and products in bulk. The platform is being modified to create a community of home based workers. The user organisations will also be supported by HR consultancies, which will help them perform cost-benefit analysis, amend their policies, redesign jobs and business processes, and monitor performance of employees. In the second consortium, Business Gateway Asia (BGA) is providing ICT solutions to Rasa Sayang Healthcare, an SME providing home-nursing care. Home-based staff will have remote access to workflow systems and will be able to retrieve assignment and patient information and report on patient progress. IDA is co-funding the investment required for the pilot, partially covering the development costs of the ICT solutions, as well as the costs of manpower, training and professional services.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/14/2013

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Master Plan to Develop Singapore into Global IP Hub

 

SINGAPORE: A new 10- year master plan aimed at developing Singapore into a global Intellectual Property (IP) hub was unveiled Monday. The master plan, which was formulated by an IP Steering Committee, was revealed by the Ministry of Law after the government accepted the committee’s recommendations. The committee, which is led by MediaCorp chairman Mr Teo Ming Kian, was formed in May 2012 after the government identified IP as a key driver of global economic growth. Among the recommendations outlined in the master plan includes a call for Singapore to be an international hub for IP transactions and management. The committee also recommended boosting the quality of IP filings as well as IP dispute resolution in Singapore. To achieve these outcomes, the committee said that Singapore should develop skilled manpower resources networked to the region and beyond, as well as create an environment suitable for IP activities to strengthen Singapore as a vibrant IP hub.

 

There is also an increasing need to have ideas and knowledge to move up the value-added chain in the economy, said Mr Teo. "We have gone through the phases of the labour intensive, skill intensive, capital intensive sorts of economic development. To get to the next level, you really need knowledge, you really need to exploit ideas. And this is where I think the committee feels that Singapore has a role to play," he added. He also said that Singapore’s strong legal and financial system was an advantage. "We are well trusted because we have rule of law. We have (the) consistency of policies to protect properties, tangible or otherwise. We are a very effective and efficient business and financial centre... I don't think there are many other countries who can lay claim to (having this combination of factors)."

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 04/01/2013

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Singapore Government's Open Data Enable App Development

 

Six teams of developers won awards for innovative apps that use open government data yesterday, at the inaugural PlugFest International Programming Competition (IPC). The IPC was organised by the Google Developer Group Singapore and the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Computer Society Singapore, and supported by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and the Institute for Infocomm Research. The competition was open to tertiary students and individuals, who had to create web or mobile applications that use publicly available datasets from the government’s open data portal. An app called ‘The Great Singapore Rat Race’ won the Most Innovative Award as well as the first prize in the individual category. The web and mobile app, created by developer Seah Ru Hong, provides a visualisation of labour and income data from Singapore, using datasets released by the Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of Education, and the Department of Statistics.

 

The app shows users trends in average household income and income by industry and education, as well as starting salaries and employment rates of fresh graduates. Seah said that the app will help students make decisions regarding their course of study, and help workers chart their career path by analysing income trends. The app will also give researchers a macroeconomic overview of the country. Another app called ‘Last Order’, which aims to reduce wastage of food in restaurants, was named the Most Socially Impactful App. Using location information from the Hotel Licensing Board, the app allows restaurants to send notifications on promotions and discounts to customers in the vicinity just before closing time. “The concept is based on proximity and real time”, explained Javier Tamashiro, one of the creators of the app. Users can set a maximum distance that the restaurant must be within to receive notifications. Promotions will be sent in real-time to avoid food spoilage. The app can be expanded to include promotions from events such as concerts, or even supermarkets.

 

Josephine Teo, Minister of State for Finance and Transport, attended the awards ceremony, and spoke about the use of government data by private developers. “To improve the way we deliver public services, we hope to harness the power of our people by facilitating co-creation”, she stated. “The release of datasets for mash-ups or data analytics is a good example of how co-creation can give us insights into consumer behaviour or create new services to improve the lives of citizens”. The minister also announced the launch of Apps4SG, the government’s own app development competition using open data.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/04/2013

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Singapore Outlines Govt ICT Spending Priorities

 

G-Cloud, Big Data, Analytics, Information Security, and a more pervasive use of sensors to position Singapore as a ‘smart city’ - these were the key areas of focus for ICT spending over the course of the next financial year, announced at an industry briefing organised by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) this morning. Government ICT spending is set to remain unchanged for the year ahead at S$1.2 billion (US$947 million), but the Deputy Chief Executive of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, James Kang, heralded a major shift in the way the government will procure ICT.

 

Smaller, but more frequent, projects

Explaining that the world of ICT was becoming more complex, and the needs of users were changing at a faster rate, Kang set out a vision of ‘agile software development’ where agencies would break down larger ICT projects into their constituent elements with a view to delivering services faster, and with less risk. “We can no longer wait nine months or more for delivery, the world is moving too fast,” explained Kang. “And there has been a tendency for agencies to list their maximal requirements, including things they did not need. This can lead to very complex programmes where the risk and magnitude of failure increases.” “So what we want to move towards is a more disciplined approach, where the most important functions are prioritised and the emphasis is on going live as quickly as possible,” he continued.

 

G-Cloud: open for business

The next phase in the development of the Singapore government’s ‘G-Cloud’ received particular attention, as Kang signalled a switch from Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). “Many agencies have been encouraged to take advantage of public cloud services for non-confidential systems, and the take up rate has been good. So we are now trying to extend the same benefits for systems which are dealing with confidential information, and that is the function of the G-Cloud,” he explained. Inviting solutions providers to work with IDA to make their cloud-based applications available from the G-Cloud, a private cloud infrastructure that has been built up over the past year, Singapore’s GCIO revealed that “close to 100 systems are already making their way to the G-Cloud”. ICT companies were encouraged to adapt to this new provisioning model as individual agencies sought to tap “the agility, scalability and utility pricing model of the cloud while maintaining the governance and security of confidential systems and data”.

 

Information Security

In response to a question from FutureGov Asia Pacific magazine, Kang revealed that the one continuous strand linking this industry briefing with previous years was the enduring importance of information security. “If anything it continues to grow in importance every year - you would be surprised to see our own statistics on what is happening. We literally receive billions of attacks a year from automated crawlers and viruses. So this year we are going to enhance our ‘Cyber-Watch Centre’ (CWC) so that we can have constant monitoring throughout the day, and where there is real time detection of suspicious activity so that we can take remedial action - as opposed to being attacked and not knowing about it.” The CWC was set up by IDA in 2007 to provide alerts on cyber attacks for government agencies. It currently runs a round-the-clock Security Operations Centre staffed with security professionals. In the coming year it will develop new capabilities in the areas of web site security, detection of data loss, and better detection of malware. These enhancements are expected to be implemented by April 2014.

 

Big Data = Smarter Cities

The large volumes of data being automatically created by an ever-growing array of sensors was another area that Kang drew attention to during the briefing. Referring to the city-as-a-system, and the internet-of-things, Kang backed the Singapore government’s efforts to break new ground in the field of ‘smart cities’: “I think we are doing things that you won’t see anywhere else, and if you look at our procurement plans you will see a lot of money being spent on cameras and other passive sensors.” Citing the danger posed by high tides coinciding with sudden downpours of rain that can lead to road flooding within 30 minutes, Kang said that real time decision would make the city more liveable and improve the quality of life for residents. “Data analytics will help the Singapore government to analyse all this multimedia data coming in, as well as a lot of unstructured data, and help improve the delivery of services, analyse feedback, optimise our operations, and improve safety and awareness,” he explained. “We are moving towards a data-driven, actionable intelligence mindset. And we are looking for more innovative applications through mash ups with private sector data in order to co-create initiatives that leverage all this government data.”

 

Thinking differently

During the morning session Kang was at pains to stress that the government was seeking to work more collegiately with industry, and that he acknowledged that government departments needed to step out of their comfort zone to make this work. “I think the government is now a collaborative government. Not ‘government to you’ - but ‘government with you’. We are looking to become a government that co-creates with the private sector,” he concluded. “The mindset of government must change. You have to have partnership thinking. I just think that this approach is more appropriate for the complex environment in which we find ourselves.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/23/2013

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THAILAND: Digital Radio Mulled for 2013

 

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's broadcasting committee might allocate a spectrum for digital radio next year. Natee Sukonrat, vice chairman of the NBTC and chairman of the broadcasting committee, said that this year the committee would test-launch digital radio once every six months. Next year it might allocate an unused VHF spectrum for digital radio. The allocation might be for the major provinces first. Like the digital TV licences, operation licences for digital radio will be categorised into those for network operators, broadcasting facility operators, and broadcasting service providers. Those wanting to become commercial broadcasting service providers will be required to bid for frequencies of the spectrum. A digital radio system would solve the frequency jam by community radio channels. The auto industry might be the first to adopt such a system as many major carmakers are keen to install digital radio systems in their vehicles.

 

Natee said the launch of digital radio in Thailand would provide choices to consumers as it would be available in parallel with the existing analog system. There will be no shutdown of the analog system. The NBTC's interest in digital radio coincides with its plan to switch Thailand's terrestrial television system from analog to digital. The broadcasting committee is expected to auction licences for commercial digital TV service this year. The NBTC, the International Telecommunication Union and WorldDMB, a global forum for digital-radio professionals, yesterday kicked off a three-day technology workshop and demonstration of the digital radio broadcasting system.  The ITU will also deploy its expertise to help the NBTC draw up a digital-radio road map. The ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology. WorldDMB was also invited to conduct a workshop and demonstration for senior engineers and industry stakeholders wanting to learn more about what is involved in the establishment of digital radio. The workshop will also include a one-day live field test of digital radio broadcasting today in Bangkok, and a transmission demonstration will be conducted at MCOT.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 03/02/2013

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Thailand to Set Up New Mapping Database

 

Deputy Premier Plodprasop Suraswadi revealed plans to set up a THB140-billion (USD 4.7 billion) mapping database using a 1:4,000 scale in a bid to centralise the use standardised maps in government agencies. According to Suraswadi, the system will support key projects such as the THB 350-billion (US11.7 billion) Water Management scheme and the THB2.2 trillion (USD 73 billion) large-scale infrastructure project. In addition, the system will also improve efforts on improving precision farming and forest and land management. The move stemmed from a need to standardise map usage in government agencies. At present, government agencies have used a variety of maps with different scales to plan for development projects. This has proved to be problematic especially when data is shared to other organisations. For instance, a 1:250,000 ratio is used to designate areas as national parks, while the Land Department uses a 1:40,000 scale for land management, this causes confusion over several issues as both agencies have to work together closely. Once the system is in place, government agencies will be equipped with a mapping database which enables them to leverage aerial photographs and high resolution satellite images to efficiently and effectively plan long-term development projects. “On farmland zoning for example, enhanced images could show which plots are being used to grow crops. The system would also allow high-resolution photographs that would help the government work out exactly what areas were damaged by flooding and who needs to be compensated,” Suraswadi said. Furthermore, the government will be investing THB 420 Billion (USD 14 billion) for the project and will also entail the creation of a new agency to lead its development.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/12/2013

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VIETNAM: City to Launch Smart Transport Management System

 

The Transport Department of Hanoi city will be rolling out the pilot trial of its smart transport management system in Thang Long Highway in a bid to improve road safety and traffic management. Thang Long Highway is currently the longest highway in Vietnam, with a distance of 28 kilometres. Part of the project is the implementation of CCTV cameras and computer networks that aims to help the transport department manage traffic activities along the highway. In addition, it also aims to help local authorities respond better to vehicular and roadside accidents by sharing real-time information of the incident to concerned offices. Once the pilot trial is deemed successful, the transport department will then fully implement the system in other expressways in Hanoi. It is expected that the system will help local authorities improve the efficiency of managing traffic congestion along major expressways. To better transport conditions, the city is building 34 bridges over rivers and 15 overpasses while trying to complete the construction of some key belt roads and highways.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/05/2013

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Vietnam Local Government Highlights Importance of IT Standards

 

Truong Minh Thuan, Director of the Department of Information and Communications of the Mekong Delta province of An Giang, highlighted the importance of implementing a common set of IT and interoperability standards as soon as possible to support the local and central government’s ambitious ICT plans. Having a set of common IT and interoperability standards enables organisations to achieve better management, integration and coordination of its various internal IT systems. It helps decision makers address technical problems such as incompatible computers and computer programs, disjointed administrative processes and the lack of institutional protocols for data sharing between agencies. “There are several State entities using different software products on information systems. This has made it difficult to connect and exchange documents among State agencies resulting in inefficient and redundant pan-agency processes and workflows,” he said. Adding that failing to connect information systems among state agencies will be a hindrance to the goals of the e-government roadmap.

 

Meanwhile, according to Chu Tien Dung, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh Computer Association, the absence of IT and interoperability standards has resulted in unsynchronised or even conflicting IT applications. Because of this, many State agencies at all levels are making IT investments separately and inconsistently. In this aspect, Thuan urged the Ministry of Information and Communications to undertake efforts needed to set up standards that will dictate protocols and uniform practices to help agencies develop suitable IT systems. “Software solutions must be able to get linked with one another to pave the way for local management authorities to exchange documents and handle administrative tasks in a consistent way,” he said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/21/2013

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Vietnam to Modernise Population Management Systems

 

The Government unveiled plans to modernise administrative procedures related to population management as part of its efforts to improve its capacity to collect, process and disseminate population information and data. The draft version of the plan was unveiled during a high-level meeting last 26th April. The Ministry of Justice said it will be collecting feedback from concerned stakeholders before submitting the finalised plans to the National Assembly Standing Committee and the Government for continued consideration. According to an official statement, the project will be implemented in two phases and will start by the end of 2013. The first phase of the project essentially involves a review and needs assessment of the current IT infrastructure and administrative procedures. Results from the review will enable the steering committee to draft an IT roadmap needed to modernise and improve the efficiency in procedures related to population management. Meanwhile, the second phase involves the building of the technical infrastructure needed for the national population database which is scheduled to be implemented on June 2013.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/29/2013

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INDIA: Launching National Cloud Initiative

 

New Delhi: The Government of India has launched a national cloud initiative —GI Cloud—to help the government leverage cloud computing for effective delivery of e-services. The project by the Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY) has beeninitiated to support the implementation of the National e-Governance Plan of India (NeGP) and aims to create a private cloud environment for the use of government departments and agencies at the centre and state levels. According to DeitY, the adoption of cloud computing will accelerate the delivery of e-services to citizens, and support other objectives such as increasing standardisation, interoperability and integration, pooling of scarce and underused resources, and the spread of best practices. Cloud computing provides tremendous scope of speeding up the development and roll out of e-governance applications while increasing government ICT efficiency.

 

A roadmap to GI Cloud was released by DeitY last week, assessing the ICT infrastructure currently in place in India and defining an implementation plan for GI Cloud. The roadmap declares that cloud computing environments will be established at the national and state levels, starting with one National Cloud, using new and existing data centres. The National Cloud will provide services such as computing, storage and network infrastructure, backup and recovery, and application development, supported by the State Clouds. A GI Cloud Services Directory will be created to help public sector organisations find and subscribe to relevant services. The government’s AppStore will host both cloud and non-cloud enabled applications which can easily be customised to meet the needs of different organisations. The first step defined for the implementation of GI Cloud is the establishment of an ‘Empowered Committee’ to provide strategic and regulatory guidance to DeitY and other stakeholders. DeitY will publish guidelines and standards for the security, application development, service delivery, contract management, and pricing and procurement for GI Cloud. The roadmap specifies that detailed studies of the existing infrastructure capacity at the government data centres and the requirement for infrastructure and applications need to be conducted for effective implementation of GI Cloud.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 02/27/2013

 

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BSNL Launches Project to Connect NE

 

BSNL has launched an ambitious programme to improve connectivity in rural and tribal areas of the northeast with the Centre planning to reach out to the rural population for effective governance through Common Service Centres (CSCs). About 1300 CSCs are to be established in the region and work for connectivity to these, informed Chief General Manager Telecom (CGMT), NE-1 Circle, DP Singh. The NE-1 Circle, comprising Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura, is “always striving hard” to improve the telecom scenario in the region, Singh said. He added that while meeting sales target set by BSNL, growth in many new thrust areas have also been achieved. “During 2012-13, about 1.7 lakh GSM mobile connections were provided and 57 towers installed and commissioned, which has enhanced the capacity of 1 lakh lines and improved coverage to cater to the needs of the public in rural and remote areas,” the CGM said. “Phase-VII project for augmenting mobile capacity by 3 lakh with 468 Base Transceiver Station (BTS) tentatively is planned to be rolled out in the financial year 2013-14. There is considerable progress in rolling out wireless broadband, WiMAX services,” he said.

 

Arrangements are being made to provide 9312 broadband connections for which 81 new broadband equipment are under various stages of commissioning, he said. He added that 45 internet broadband-enabled kiosks have also been provided. Singh said 103.36 km of optical fibre cable (OFC) route has been laid for connectivity to all the three states together. The CGM said a telecom plan for the N-E region has been worked out, which would involve Rs 10,000 crore in the first phase of implementation. Singh said a project has been launched to provide broadband connectivity to all government schools in Meghalaya. “The project is being monitored by the Union human resource development ministry,” he said. The CGM further said that NE-1 Circle has shown that profits can be made even in these “grave economic times”. He added that the overall revenue for NE-1 for the last financial year 2011-12 stood at Rs 204.85 crore and this year the revenue has increased to Rs 213.96 crore and expenditure has come down for 2012-13 by Rs 2.9 crore.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 05/01/2013

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MALDIVES: Govt Decides to Compile a SIM Card User Policy

 

Government has decided to compile a SIM card user policy for SIM cards issued by Maldivian telecommunication companies, due to the frequent misuse of unregistered SIM cards that threaten national security, Acting Transport Minister Mohamed Nazim said Wednesday. The decision was made following deliberations on a paper presented by the Transport and Communication Ministry at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting. It was also decided that this policy would require every SIM card to be properly registered. Minister said the SIM cards that have already been issued would have to be registered under the new regulation. Nazim said such a policy would facilitate the Police in conducting investigations and avert threats to national security.

From http://www.haveeru.com.mv 04/10/2013

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NEPAL: Govt Forms Committee to Recommend Online Media Regulations

 

The Ministry of Information and Communications has formed a five-member committee to recommend the government on introducing new regulations to govern online media. Ministry Joint-secretary Narayan Prasad Sanjel has been appointed chief of the committee, which comprises editors of various Nepali language-based online news portals and a representative from Federation of Nepali Journalists, RSS reported. The report said that the committee is holding consultations to include online media under the ambit of the Broadcasting Act.

From http://www.nepalnews.com 05/11/2013

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AZERBAIJAN: Communications Ministry to Support 'Electronic Village' Project

 

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies will support the 'Electronic village' project, lawyer of the non-profit organisation IREX Alasgar Mammadli told Trend. According to Mammadli, starting July, the project will be fully subordinated to the Ministry. Within the project, Internet kiosks were installed in 30 regions of Azerbaijan, 26 of which are connected via fibre-optic lines. "These kiosks are used by a fairly wide range of groups. Implementation of the electronic Azerbaijan state programme has led to creation of the State Agency for Services to Citizens and Social Innovations (ASAN-Xidm t) and increase in number of electronic services provided by government agencies. Accordingly, a parallel development of infrastructure is required for bringing electronic services to the masses," Mammadli said. Installation of electronic kiosks is conducted within the IREX-initiated 'Electronic Village project '. The cost is estimated at $100,000. The main purpose of installing Internet kiosks in the regions of the country is to provide the population with access to information for the citizens to have the opportunity to carry out online payments, apply in an electronic form to public agencies and to complain about existing problems.

From http://callcenterinfo.tmcnet.com/ 02/27/2013

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Azerbaijan Approves ICT Action Plan

 

President Ilham Aliyev approved the Action Plan on the Year of Information and Communication Technologies in Azerbaijan last week. 2013 was declared the year of information and communication technologies in Azerbaijan in accordance with a presidential decree on January 16. Under the presidential order, the Communications and Information Technologies Ministry is the coordinator of relevant activities. The Cabinet of Ministers of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is assigned to provide realization of the activities related to the development and use of information and communication technologies in the territory of the autonomous republic and implementation of the measures to form e-government. Azerbaijan's Cabinet of Ministers is charged to work out the issues pertaining to the action plan.

 

Outlined goals

According to the action plan, it is planned to develop an ICT strategy, improve the registration procedure of the national domain.az, and significantly reduce fees for telecommunication services and internet access. The action plan will be implemented in four main areas: implementation of organizational measures, improvement of the legal basis and management, strengthening the capacity of the ICT sector and development of information society and human resources. The plan provides organization of the functioning of the State Fund for ICT Development, the High Technologies Park, Information Security Center, Virtual Qarabag ICT center, IT University, as well as an increase of the number of provided e-services and the range of users, improvement of the quality of broadband services, transition to digital broadcasting, and introduction of phone number portability.

 

The action plan also includes measures on increasing the number of e-kiosks in the Azerbaijani regions in order to increase the range of e-service users, measures on copyright protection on the Internet, development of distance education, introduction of an electronic queue and distribution of apartments. Creation of Wi-Fi zones in public areas, protection of children from harmful content online, improvement of the personnel potential in the ICT sector, conduct of national and international ICT forums, conferences and workshops are also envisioned by the plan. Creating and operating a website on the ICT Year as well as conducting a first nationwide research and practical conference on cyber security is expected in April or May. According to the ICT Ministry, in 2012, ICT revenues exceeded $1.7 billion, which is 18 percent more than in 2011. This rate in previous years was 25-30 percent and the main task is to maintain the figure at 20 percent. If this pace is maintained, earnings from the sector will reach $8-9 billion by 2020.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 04/01/2013

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IT-Projects’ Concessional Financing Conditions Defined in Azerbaijan

 

In order to support promising 'start-ups' in the scientific and technical industries, the State Fund for IT Development will give them direct financial support, Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan told Trend on Wednesday. According to the ministry, in the Regulations on the State Fund, the head of state specifies issues of stimulating activity in the IT area in Azerbaijan, as well as provide concessional allocation of financial resources to issue loans and grants to IT companies. The main tasks of the fund will be the implementation of the state policy on development and support of small enterprises in the scientific and technical fields, providing them with direct financial assistance and personnel training which in turn will help create new job places. According to the ministry, the Regulations on the State IT Development Fund provide opportunities for attracting internal and external capital to the fund's projects. Potential financing sources of the fund are the following: the public budget, the fund's own revenue, dividends from the securities acquired by the fund, voluntary donations of domestic and foreign legal entities and individuals and grants and credits from foreign countries and international organisations. The maximum grant available may reach 300,000 manats, for a period of 36 months. Small grants are stipulated amounting to between 10, 000 and 100,000 manat, medium grants could be from 100-200,000 manat and large ones from 200 -300,000 manat. In order to ensure the transparency of financial transactions, the State Fund will be audited every year. As the ministry told Trend previously, the initial 15 million funding amount of the State Fund is provided by the state budget for 2013. The official exchange rate for 3 April is 0.7846 AZN / USD.

From http://en.trend.az/ 04/03/2013

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ICT Financing Rules Approved in Azerbaijan

 

Azerbaijan's state IT development fund will provide financial support for promising 'start-ups' in the domestic scientific and technical industries. President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree to approve the regulations on the State Fund for IT Development under Azerbaijan's Communications and Information Technologies Ministry. The decree defines rules on the use of the fund's resources. The ministry said Wednesday that the regulations specify issues of stimulating activity in the ICT sector of Azerbaijan, as well as allocation of concessional funding to issue loans and grants to ICT companies. The main tasks of the Fund will be the implementation of the state policy on development and support of small enterprises in the scientific and technical fields, providing them with direct financial assistance and personnel training, which in turn will help to create new jobs.

 

According to the ministry, these regulations provide opportunities for attracting internal and external capital to the Fund's projects. Potential financing sources of the fund are the state budget, the fund's revenues, dividends from securities acquired by the fund, donations of domestic and foreign legal entities and individuals, as well as grants and credits received from foreign countries and international organizations. Each Azerbaijani citizen may avail of the advantages of the fund. Financial aid to enterprises will be arranged through contests. Businesses can borrow small, medium and large loans. The amount of small credits ranges from 10,000 to 50,000 manats (up to over $63,000) for a three-year term, while medium credits are worth 50,000 to 500,000 manats and provided for a period of up to five years; large loans are allocated in the amount from 500,000 to 1 million manats for ten years. The annual interest rate should not exceed 5 percent. The maximum grant available is up to 300,000 manats, provided for a period of 36 months. The amount of small grants is designated at 10,000 to 100,000 manats, while medium grants could be from 100,000 to 200,000 manats and large ones -- from 200,000 to 300,000 manats. The state fund will be audited every year in order to ensure the transparency of financial transactions.

 

Earlier the communications ministry said that initial funding of the state fund envisioned in the 2013 state budget amounts to 15 million manats. 2013 was declared the year of information and communication technologies in Azerbaijan in accordance with a presidential decree on January 16. The Azerbaijani president also approved the Action Plan on the Year of Information and Communication Technologies in Azerbaijan last week. According to the action plan, it is planned to develop an ICT strategy, improve the registration procedure of the national domain .az, and significantly reduce fees for telecommunication services and internet access. According to the ICT Ministry, in 2012, ICT revenues exceeded $1.7 billion, which is 18 percent more than in 2011. This rate in previous years was 25-30 percent and the main task is to keep the figure at 20 percent. If this pace is maintained, earnings from the sector will reach $8-9 billion by 2020.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 04/04/2013

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Azerbaijan Extends Broadband Internet Project Until 2017

 

The project on the development of broadband Internet in Azerbaijan will be implemented in the period 2013-2017, Communications and Information Technologies Minister Ali Abbasov said on Thursday. The project has been extended for two years as it was previously expected to be completed by 2015. According to Abbasov, Azerbaijan's State Oil Fund allocated 103 million manats ($131 million) for the project this year. Funding will also be provided in the coming years. All regions of Azerbaijan will be provided with high-speed access to the Internet by 2017. Regarding digital content in Azerbaijan, Abbasov said the increase in the number of electronic signature users contributes to its development. According to the minister, the number of electronic signatures issued by the certification center has now reached 12,000. This is a low figure given the country's population of over 9 million.

 

The use of digital signatures will spur the development of electronic services and in particular e-commerce, as well as simplify the procedure for issuance of official documents, he said. Abbasov noted that by the end of the year, the ministry intends to continue the implementation of the e-government project in the country, commission a new ground satellite station to monitor the earth's surface and complete the full transition to digital broadcasting. According to Aztelekom Production Association, the number of broadband internet users in the network of the association increased by 19 percent since the beginning of the year and currently is over 136,000 connections. In April, the number of households with access to broadband Internet reached 250,000 in Azerbaijan's capital Baku, with the figure expected to reach 400,000 by the end of 2013.

 

The introduction of broadband internet is being implemented under the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) project. The project is aimed at building a fiber network for providing high-speed broadband internet services to the population. The traffic speed in FTTH technology will vary between 10 and 100 Mbit/s, while with ADSL the private user can enjoy only 2 to 8 Mbit/s speed depending on the telephone line's condition and distance from the telephone exchange. The project is to be implemented in three phases. The main goal of the project is to provide remote regions of the country with broadband Internet with a speed of 10 to 100 Mbit/s and expand the number of users to 85 percent. Azerbaijan has maintained its leading position among the CIS countries in terms of broadband Internet penetration over the past three years. Internet penetration rates increased from 65 to 70 percent in 2012.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 05/03/2013

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Draft E-Gov Program for 2013-2015 Developed in Azerbaijan

 

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan has developed a draft State program for the development of "e-government" 2013-2015, Isfandiyar Aliyev, head of strategic development at the Communications and IT Ministry said on Monday. According to Aliyev, the project was submitted to the government, and works on the implementation of all activities envisaged by it will begin upon its approval. "The program is expected to be approved in June 2013," Aliyev said. The new program is continuation of the state program on developing the ICT sector in Azerbaijan in 2010-2012. The program is aimed to create the e-government, develop the methods of management by means of implementing modern information and communication technologies in state bodies, providing e-services, as well as taking comprehensive measures to provide simplified and free access of citizens and organizations to such services.

 

The e-government project, which mostly covers the government sector, is an integral part of the broad "electronic Azerbaijan" idea. The establishment and development of the e-government in Azerbaijan will encourage fruitful work of the state bodies, guarantee its transparency and reduce bureaucracy. The e-government targets to reduce poverty, provide suitable conditions for the population's prosperity and address the issues reflected in the state program on poverty reduction and sustainable development in 2008-2015. Gabala city, some 225 km from Baku, hosted the fifth anniversary International Scientific Conference on "E-government: innovations in customs" on May 6-7. Some 102 representatives from 55 world countries attended it. The conference was held to discuss the global practice in developing and using the e-government, modern forms of cooperation between public organizations in the field of e-governance, using the information and communication technologies in the field of customs and other areas of the economy, as well as examining the current situation on innovative methods of governance and exchanging the experience in this area.

 

Chairman of the State Customs Committee, lieutenant-general of the customs service Aydin Aliyev, Deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technologies Elmir Velizade, UN Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan, Resident Representative of the UN Development Program Antonius Broek, head of the European Regional Office for Capacity Building of the World Customs Organization Vitali Mikeladze attended the opening ceremony of the conference. 2013 was declared the Year of ICT in Azerbaijan and the ICT University was established under a presidential order on February 2. President Ilham Aliyev also approved the regulations on the State Fund for IT Development and the Action Plan on the Year of ICT in Azerbaijan. According to the action plan, it is planned to develop an ICT strategy, improve the registration procedure of the national domain .az, and significantly reduce fees for telecommunication services and internet access.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 05/07/2013

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Azerbaijani Government Drafting New ICT Bill

 

Azerbaijan's Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies jointly with ASAN Service, which ensures unified and coordinated provision of services by government agencies, is drafting a bill "On state information systems and resources". Isfandiyar Aliyev, head of strategic development at the Communications and IT Ministry, said that the draft law will cover the creation and management of information systems, regulations on their use, technical issues, and information security. "Work on the new bill will be completed by June, after which the procedures of its review and approval will begin," Aliyev said. "The document is intended to provide support for building electronic government and expanding the scope of its activity, as well as solving a number of existing problems in this area," he said. The preparation of this bill is part of the action plan of the communications ministry for the current year due to the announcement of 2013 as the Year of ICT in Azerbaijan. Earlier Aliyev said the ICT ministry had developed a draft state program for the development of "e-government" covering the period 2013-2015.

 

The new program follows up on the state program on ICT development in 2010-2012 and is aimed to create the e-government, develop methods of management by means of implementing modern information and communication technologies in state bodies, providing e-services, as well as taking comprehensive measures to provide simplified and free access of citizens and organizations to such services. The e-government project, which mostly covers the government sector, is an integral part of the broad "electronic Azerbaijan" idea. The establishment and development of the e-government in Azerbaijan will encourage fruitful work of the state bodies, guarantee its transparency and reduce bureaucracy. The e-government targets to reduce poverty, provide suitable conditions for the population's prosperity and address the issues reflected in the state program on poverty reduction and sustainable development in 2008-2015.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 05/13/2013

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AUSTRALIA: New Standards Impose Rigorous Process for E-Waste Disposal

 

New standards designed to help divert e-waste from landfill by imposing a rigorous process for its collection, storage, and recycling have been set by Standards Australia. The new, joint Australian and New Zealand Standard, ‘AS/NZS 5377:2013 Collection, storage, transport and treatment of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment’, outlines minimum requirements for the safe and environmentally sound handling of e-waste. Colin Blair, Chief Executive Officer, Standards Australia, said the standard sets out principles and minimum requirements for end-of-life electrical equipment in order to maximise re-use, reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, safeguard worker health, and minimise environmental harm. “The standard states that a lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation or adverse health and safety effects. The standard sends a strong message regarding the environmental concerns of e-waste.”

 

According to Blair, the standard recognises that there are laws in place regulating how to comply with occupational health and safety requirements and environmental performance, and that Australia and New Zealand are signatories to international agreements on environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and pollutants. “The standard enhances existing environmental protections and international obligations, while establishing the processes required to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.” Senator Don Farrell, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water welcomed the new standard, which he said aligned with the Australian Government’s goal of ensuring that e-waste is managed in a manner that protects human health and the environment. “The new standard will complement the Australian Government’s National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme under which recycling services for televisions and computers are being rolled out to communities across Australia.”

 

Senator Farrell said that householders and businesses could drop off unwanted e-waste products “confident that the valuable materials they contain will be recovered, and that any hazardous materials will not enter the environment.” He said the standard also provided environmentally-effective guidelines for industry and would help ensure that, from 1 July 2014, at least 90 per cent of all materials in e-waste collected under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme were recovered for use in new products.”

From http://www.itwire.com 02/18/2013

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Queensland Government Sheds Light on ICT Priorities

 

Following the success of FutureGov Forum Queensland in 2012, where the state’s key IT decision makers highlighted key development priorities, Queensland’s newly appointed Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts,the Hon Ian Walker, shares some of the key challenges and opportunities facing the State. Among these are plans to consult widely with the industry and drive future ICT reforms. Addressing Queensland’s Government ICT executives and the ICT industry, Minister Walker underlined his intention to meet with every member of Queensland’s ICT industry and agencies. These consultations will drive ICT reforms in Queensland. These widespread consultations foreshadow the much-anticipated results of the Queensland ICT Audit Report. This report was commissioned by former Minister Ros Bates. This ICT audit is still under development.

 

“Queensland Government commissioned the ICT Forensic Audit for our ICT system and it was bigger than that we originally thought,” Minister Walker said. “In understanding its complexity and taking time to get it right, let me assure you that we are addressing these complexities, and we understand the importance of developing a clear ICT strategy.” Minister Walker said. “In the 48 hours that I have been a Minister, I have been briefed on the ICT Audit and we are working rigorously to ensure it is done appropriately. And to have a forward-looking strategy as soon as possible.” He said the audit highlighted that the government owns and manages over 1730 applications and most of these were custom-built. “The audit brought to our attention that the average age system is 10 years old with 90 per cent of the systems needing to be replaced within five years. A number of critical systems will reach the past due dates within the next two years.” Duplications are a huge problem. Currently, there are 108 case management systems and 80 record management systems. Sixty per cent of the ICT staff is working to maintain these systems, and diverting their attention from focusing on innovation.

 

Minister Walker said his department will lead the development plan for ICT. “This will be developed in consultation with Professor Peter Grant, Queensland Government CIO, as well as government agencies and the ICT Industry by end of June”. Changing the way Queensland Government ICT system is managed will take time. “We want to ensure that the next steps are correct, we need to set up our IT systems for success. We are serious about gating our projects to ensure that funding stages are done correctly,” the Minister concluded.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 02/25/2013

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Australia Joins Convention on Cybercrime Treaty

 

Last year, Australia passed the Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 as part of the prerequisites to become a party to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime. While extending the scope of Commonwealth-related computer offences, it also, controversially, required internet service providers (ISPs) to store customer data on persons deemed under suspicion by law-enforcement agencies. This information is stored without warrant, but only handed over once law enforcement obtains one. At the time, it was generally supported by the Labor and Coalition governments, but the Greens held some reservations about the new legislation. One of the concerns raised by Greens spokesperson Scott Ludlam was that if information was sent overseas, nothing would prevent it from coming back under weaker privacy laws. This would theoretically open a loophole for anyone wanting to circumvent the local Privacy Act.

 

The Greens' concerns were ultimately voted against in parliament. Debate over the issue has been significant, with some stating that the legislation is a step backward, and that it opens the door to a complete data-retention scheme. The latter is now being debated in a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said that in addition to enabling local law enforcement to access and share information with international counterparts, Australians' privacy protections would be maintained. "A warrant is always required to access the content of a communication, whether the information is in Australia, or accessed from overseas under the Cybercrime Convention," he said in a statement. "The Cybercrime Act and the Cybercrime Convention do not impact in any way on the need to have a warrant to access content from a telephone call, SMS, or email."

From http://www.zdnet.com 03/04/2013

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South Australia Unveils New ICT Roadmap

 

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill is leading the charge on ICT reforms for the state – with a new strategy canvassing “across-government” innovation – but with a closer scrutiny of spending programmes. Doing more with less is the mantra for the state’s “South Australia Connected – Ready for the Future” position paper. This paper, being circulated across communities and industry, crystallises core policy reforms for 2013-2014. While short on detail about technologies-of-choice, this paper seeks community and industry feedback. It one of one several documents refining South Australia’s reforms for ICT innovation and service delivery. Details can be found at SA Plan. During an ICT Strategy launch, Premier Weatherill said that technology contributes significantly to the state’s economy. In South Australia, there are more than 22,000 ICT workers – comparable in employment terms with the hospitality and financial services industry. The state government hires nearly 8 per cent of these ICT workers. The annual spend on ICT goods and services is more than US$500 million (AU$$500 million).

 

This annual spending is a significant outlay, noted Premier Weatherill. It requires a more astute, cost-effective and innovative approach to the way money is being spent. The government’s strategy document cautions against big bang ICT spending projects. Premier Weatherill said that being “ICT-savvy” is part of developing good policy, better services, greater efficiency, and more prosperity. Between 2013-2014, the South Australian government is rolling out several new projects – building on previous initiatives. Among these, a real‑time Adelaide Metro information service is being offered across Adelaide City. Metro commuters, using desktop browsers or smartphone apps, will be able to track bus, tram or train timetables across designated stops. An ambulance Mobile Connect SA service is being enhanced. This service uses high‑speed connections to state-wide ambulances. This offering is supported by real‑time access to incident details and critical patient data. The project, when fully operational, improves inter‑agency mobilisation and communication during emergencies.

 

Moreover, CareConnect – SA Health’s strategy, previously called CareConnect, is streamlining state‑wide electronic health record management programmes. This initiative helps integrate citizen health records across public hospitals, health professionals and health services. Previous projects have included a multi‑award winning internet portal to access government services and information. Additionally, an on-line registration EzyReg service is enabling customers to renew motor vehicle registration. EzyReg users can access a secure, on‑line payment system through a desktop or smartphone. During 2011-12, almost 300 000 renewals were processed on‑line, offering nearly US$550,000 (AU$550 000) in staff savings. Insights about South Australia’s ICT reforms come under the spotlight at the Annual FutureGov Forum being held Tuesday 28th May (Wellington). Chris Dalton, currently with the Department of Premier and Cabinet, is a panellist at the May forum. He shares insights about citizen engagement and participation for South Australia, together with Australian, US, and New Zealand officials.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 03/28/2013

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NEW ZEALAND: To Deploy Cloud Computing Services

 

The Department of Internal Affairs of New Zealand has launched a tender for an all-of-government Desktop-as-a-Service contract. Desktop-as-a-Service, the outsourcing of desktop infrastructure to an external cloud provider, will make government workplaces more flexible by allowing employees to access their own desktop and applications from different locations and on different devices, instead of being tied to a single machine. “It improves security by storing data centrally rather than on individual devices, and will enable standardised services across government”, said Chris Tremain, Internal Affairs Minister. “Desktop as a Service is a cloud-based service and part of the Government’s wider cloud computing programme.” The minister stated that cloud technology is revolutionising the way the government thinks about ICT, and improving collaboration, efficiency and cost savings. “Four government agencies have indicated they want to use the service as soon as it becomes available, and a further nine intend to implement it over the next two years”, Tremain continued. He did not specify which agencies have agreed to use this service.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 03/14/2013

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New Zealand Launches New Version of Budget App

 

The New Zealand Treasury will launch an update of its “NZ Budget app” on Thursday to include a new user interface and interactive features, as part of the Government’s continuing efforts to interact with citizens online. The update provides easy access to Budget-related videos, Ministers’ media statements, the Minister of Finance’s Budget Speech, the Executive Summary, the Fiscal Strategy Report 2013, the Treasury’s forecasts in the Budget Economic and Fiscal Update 2013, and the latest Key Facts for Taxpayers. Its new interactive features also allow users to drill down into the Budget spending, and to enter their annual income details to see how much tax they pay and where it is spent on their behalf. Furthermore, it features interactive pie charts, which covers government expenditure and revenue, to help users better understand the New Zealand Government’s finances. “This is a refresh of the Budget app which was successfully launched last year and is part of the Government’s continuing focus on delivering innovative and better-value public services,” Finance Minister Bill English said, adding that the budget can reach more people when its digital and accessible. The NZ Budget app is available to download free from Apple and the Google play store.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 05/14/2013

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The Open E-Government Strategy for Cities

 

Open City Portal is an open-source platform developed by a network of several development institutions and universities to help even small cities in developing countries to be able to install their own customised citizen-centric city portals, through which the cities can achieve most of the e-Government goals: two-way communication with citizens and creating a single window for every city service categories. Using its knowledge sharing function, the Open City Portal supports various participatory urban and regional initiatives, such as sustainable cities, and Digital Local Agenda.

From http://ictpost.com/ 03/16/2013

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Civic Engagement in the Digital Age

 

Social networking sites have grown more important in recent years as a venue for political involvement, learning, and debate. Overall, 39% of all American adults took part in some sort of political activity on a social networking site during the 2012 campaign. This means that more Americans are now politically active on social networking sites (SNS) than used them at all as recently as the 2008 election campaign. At that point, 26% of the population used a social networking site of any kind. The growth in several specific behaviors between 2008 and 2012 illustrates the increasing importance of SNS as places where citizens can connect with political causes and issues:

•In 2012, 17% of all adults posted links to political stories or articles on social networking sites, and 19% posted other types of political content. That is a six-fold increase from the 3% of adults who posted political stories or links on these sites in 2008.

•In 2012, 12% of all adults followed or friended a political candidate or other political figure on a social networking site, and 12% belonged to a group on a social networking site involved in advancing a political or social issue. That is a four-fold increase from the 3% of adults who took part in these behaviors in 2008. Read or download the full report: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Civic-Engagement.aspx

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 04/29/2013

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AFRICA: E-Government - Is EA Ready for E-Govt Infrastructure?

 

E-govt infrastructure East Africa - Despite several reforms aimed at easing access to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the continent, many African countries remain at the tail end of the digital divide, an expert has said. A report prepared by the UN shows that of the top ten users of e-Government in the continent, the only East African nation that appears is Kenya, occupying the seventh position. Seychelles, Mauritius and Mauritius lead the continent's users. Out of the 190 countries ranked by UN in terms of e-Government usage, no East African country appears in the top 100. Kenya is ranked 119, Tanzania 138, Rwanda 139, and Uganda 143 while Burundi sits in a distant 173 position. The issue that comes to the fore is whether the governments are committed to delivering an effective e-Government solution to the citizens, businesses and other government institutions.

 

Mr. Vincenzo Aquaro, the Chief of the e-Government Branch at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) says that this is mainly attributed to infrastructure challenges on the continent. 'Four cables have for instance landed in Kenya and a fifth one is also almost landing. But the challenge lies in implementing the last mile strategy that would benefit the public,' he said. He was speaking during the 7th Annual E-Government Conference of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO) held at the Speke Resort in Munyonyo, Kampala last week. However, Ms. Elida Reci, the Africa Coordinator, Public Administration and Development Management at UNDESA while presenting a Paper titled 'The role of Institutional Frameworks and Leadership in e-Government Readiness in Africa at the Conference stated that alignment with institutional architecture and capabilities was one of the major setbacks for the continent in pursuit of a 'Smart One government.'

 

'Most of the infrastructure in place seems to be geared towards maximizing usage amongst institutions. But in as far as taking the services down to the public is concerned, the infrastructure is almost nonexistent. So additional funding needs to go into addressing these key issues,' she said. Reci added that institutional frameworks for e-Government in the 21st Century also need to be politically empowered, financially enabled; technically rich and the Human capabilities need to be further developed. Dr. Jabiri Bakari, the CEO of Tanzania's e-Government Agency, said during the conference that the existence of a perception gap between the decision makers and the technical staff on ICT security creates delays in decision making. He added, ' If we are to address security, it means we have to take into account the entire process. ' Bakari said that the absence of ICT policies, standards and guidelines both at the national and organization level was to blame for the problems.

 

'Where there are such policies, they do not resonate with what is actually happening on the ground because they are mainly copy and paste policies,' he said. Mr. James Saaka, the Executive Director of the National Information Technology Authority, Uganda (NITA-U), while seating on a panel and presenting the Ugandan experience at the conference, said that the country conducted an e-Government Readiness survey in 2012 and thereby developed an e-Government Master plan with the help of the South Korean government. This should have therefore kick-started the process of effectively creating a smart one government.

In reality though, this is not the case on the ground. 'We have an isolated IT system in government with agencies that don't speak to each other. We need to improve government online administration services and ensure that at least 80% of government agencies talk to each other,' he said. 'The e-Tax at the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) along with the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System at the Ministry of Public Service as well as the Case Management System in Judiciary are success stories but we need to ensure that information can be shared amongst the institutions,' he said. Dr. Francis Tusubira, the Chairman of NITA-U however says that the major challenge to the adoption and successful implementation of the e-Government Platform in Uganda using a whole government approach is one that involves ceding of powers to an autonomous agency.

From http://www.afriquejet.com/ 04/06/2013

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GHANA: IT Agency Collaborates with Microsoft on E-Government

 

Ghana's National Information Technology Agency (NITA) has entered into a collaboration deal with Microsoft to develop the government's capacity to use ICT to deliver services to the public. Director General of NITA William Tevie told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) after holding discussions with Ali Famwawi, Vice President of Microsoft, that NITA is adopting an open software policy in addition to the procurement of volume product licences for government agencies from Microsoft. He said provision would also be made for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) which are using other open source software on the network. He said the second phase of the expansion of the government network is under way to bring on board 60 new base stations to add to the 30 existing ones. Famwawi said Microsoft is going to collaborate with NITA to train government officials, build the technical capacity of NITA to support government ICT and to help Parliament with ICT services and training. He said Microsoft is working on delivering unique identifiers and assisting NITA to deploy MS SharePoint collaboration tools to enhance productivity within the MDAs. Other areas being considered are skilled support for government business.

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 05/13/2013

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ZIMBABWE: E-Government Way to Improve Service Delivery

 

E-Government - In an election season, many politicians seek to be in tune with the people's aspirations and for those that have been in the game before and not succeeded in winning the hearts and minds of the people, it is important to point out that it does not take complex concepts to win the electorate over. We know that many politicians conveniently swear to serve the electorate when seeking votes and then translate that into an oath of convenience for themselves as they help themselves. What the electorate needs is improved service in all sectors and it also borrows three Ps from marketing's four Ps in that the people need a product, at a place near or convenient to them and at a price that they can afford. A villager from some remote part of the country might not make much sense of vociferous debates over decentralisation and e-Government, but they certainly have lived a bitter experience of having to queue for identity documents overnight far away from home, seeking public service vehicle permits hundreds of kilometres away and investing more on a journey than expected returns as they seek to travel to the capital to acquire a liquor licence to sell their opaque beer, produced a stone's throw away.

 

Last week, we reported that the acquisition of liquor licences would be decentralised starting this month, with beer outlet operators able to make applications for licences online. 'We are introducing e-Government so that people can apply for the licence using this facility. 'A person in Binga needs not come to Harare to get a licence to sell three or four crates of scuds a day when he might probably be getting a profit of 50 cents. By March, we must be online,' Secretary for Local Government, Rural and Rural Development Mr Killian Mpingo told a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee. While we are fully in support of e-Government, it is quite imperative for Government to raise awareness on such a development so that it is utilised by those for whom it was meant. Also, having leap-frogged from filling in forms and bringing them to Harare for processing to sitting before a computer and performing the same task online, it might be necessary to ensure those that cannot use the facility are given an opportunity to submit their applications through their nearest local Government office.

 

We say this since it is not everyone with access to a computer and the Internet. We have seen the Registrar-General's office introducing the online application route for passports though the impact of that innovation is yet to show since the office is still characterised by long queues. We believe there are more Government services that could be added to the e-Government project list to do away with the bubbling anger of thousands of people that queue at various offices. Members of Parliament and different ministries should be seized with ensuring accessibility of public services to the people and the Government should award the best ministry in terms of service delivery to usher a competitive spirit that puts people first. In the business world, the cellphone has introduced much convenience ranging from voice communication to money transfer and internet connectivity. It is either you innovate or your business dies. Government has a monopoly in the services it provides and the consumers of the services make their evaluation and pass their verdict through the ballot box. It is better to decentralise and ensure efficient and prompt service delivered right where the people are than risk their wrath. Government should ensure that it has a deliberate programme of gradually computerising operations and must have no room for ministers and senior staff who are not computer literate since there is no way they can lead us to the promised land in this era where Information Communications Technology is the way globally.

From http://www.afriquejet.com/ 03/05/2013

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Zimbabwe: Local Authorities Urged to Embrace ICT, E-Government

 

MUTARE — Local Government secretary Killian Mupingo has urged local authorities to embrace e-governance to improve their management systems and service delivery.

OBEY MANAYITI

Mupingo made the remarks last Friday at a workshop organised for city fathers from Manicaland and Mashonaland East provinces. “It’s high time that we in the local government sector get appropriately equipped in terms of e-government so that we have strategic approaches to this subject,” he said. “The e-government programme is no longer an optional programme anymore. “It’s a mandatory paradigm shift, which we should follow to remain relevant.” Mupingo added that Zimbabwe’s local authorities should move with time like other councils in several countries both in Africa, which managed to utilise e-governance to improve service delivery. Speaking at the same workshop, the principal director in the Modernisation Department in the Office of the President and Cabinet Solomon Mhlanga described the use of technology by local and central government as positive rebranding. “The e-government is an enabler that facilitates the overall implementation of the results-based management programme through the use of information communication technologies (ICT) to improve service delivery,” he said. “Any local authority that chooses to ignore the ICT revolution may do so at its own peril since its environment demands it to be ICT complaint. “It is therefore, within this context that the government has embarked on the immediate implementation of e-government in order to bring the government closer to its people, to reduce corruption, bureaucratic red tape and business costs associated with traditional public administration and out-dated methods of service delivery.”

From http://www.newsday.co.zw/ 03/12/2013

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EUROPE: Bulgaria Launches Brand New E-Government Ministry

 

A new Ministry in charge of the implementation of an electronic government has been established in Bulgaria. The news was revealed as President Rosen Plevneliev unveiled the country's new caretaker Cabinet. Roman Vasilev has been announced as the country's Electronic Government Minister. Roman Vasilev is a former Director of Johnson Controls Electronics Bulgaria EOOD.

From http://www.novinite.com/ 03/12/2013

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Bulgaria: Major Egovernment Project Makes Significant Progress

 

On 16 February 2013, the Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications Ivaylo Moskovski stated that in less than a year a project has created the basis of several eGovernment services. During a press conference held in Borovets (a mountain resort close to the country’s capital), the Minister presented the activities of the project entitled 'Improving administrative customer service by building central eGovernment systems’. The project is worth about BGN 12 million (approx. 6 million) and it is funded by the European Union’s Operational Programme for the ‘Administrative Capacity’ (OPAC). He said that "from now on municipalities and ministries should make more efforts to offer electronic services." He also added that the direct effects of these services are time and money savings, and the indirect ones are that the management can deal with corruption and falsification of documents. "In the next programming period significant funding opportunities for eGovernment in sectors such as health, education and justice are expected to be announced," said Mr Moskovski.

 

The Deputy Minister, Mr Valeri Borisov said that the project has created one of the most important systems to start the eGovernance action. Among the most important uses of electronic services are electronic identity and online public consultation. Among the project results that are expected to bring significant developments are those relating to the work of public administration and systems for secure storage. In this regard, Mr Borisov gave an example of each public administration having an ID card that contains a PIN. Some users make use of the electronic signature online. However, Mr Borisov noted that the electronic identity should not contain any personal data and that only the issuing authority should have them. He added that this way the card is very secure as the code information is kept only by the public institution that issues the card, and only the owner of the card knows the PIN. Another important result of the project is the online referendum, which is part of the government eServices portal. It allows everyone's voice to be heard and influence the decision-making process. Through this system, citizens, businesses, non-governmental organisations as well as experts in public institutions may actually cooperate in formulating and developing policies and laws.

From http://www.epractice.eu/ 03/15/2013

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BELARUS: E-Government to Be Launched

 

The possibility of creating the new system will be discussed by Belarusian and Korean experts in March. It was stated today by Ambassador of Korea in Belarus Kan Von Sik. During the spring visit the Korean Expert Group will explore development of Belarusian IT technologies. The high information level of development of the country guarantees success in creation of the e-Government. It is referred to information on the state policy and laws, feedback link, online-payments and electronic services. (Kan Von Sik, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Belarus) The e-Government simplifies administrative procedures in state agencies and other departments. By the way, a uniform portal of electronic services will be launched in Belarus soon. By 2015 the resource will render at least two tens of basic electronic services and develop new ones in the long term.

From http://www.tvr.by/ 03/04/2013

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GERMANY: The National Govdata Portal Now Online

 

On 19 February 2013, the prototype of GovData - the national data portal - went online, providing citizens and businesses with easier access to and reuse of administrative data. Nowadays, tablets and smartphones, based on open government data, offer numerous applications facilitating the everyday life. Regarding the GovData portal, data from the federal, state and local governments are used under standardised technical and legal conditions. Thus the portal constitutes an important contribution to the implementation of the government programme ‘Networked and transparent administration’ and the National eGovernment strategy. In this regard, Cornelia Rogall-Grothe, the Federal Government Commissioner for Information Technology and the State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior explains: "The new online GovData portal is an important step towards more transparency. Besides the simple access to administrative data, GovData facilitates the reuse of these data that are provided in a standardised format and with clear terms of use. Through the use of open government data citizens, businesses and civil society actors can create innovative applications to make everyday life easier, developing new business models and identify new contexts of meaning.”

 

The beta version of the portal is currently online. The portal will be continuously evaluated through testing. The decision about whether the portal is going to continue will be made in 2014 after consultation with the federal states. Initially, it will offer environmental, geographical and statistic data as well as data from the existing national open data portals. Gradually, new data will be made available. In this context, the state’s system representative and Head of the Department of the Ministry of Interior of Baden-Württemberg, Dr Herbert O. Zinell explains: "Many states and municipalities are increasingly giving access to their data. I am delighted that federal and state governments have managed to develop common standards which we are now testing in the prototype GovData portal." The portal has been developed by FOKUS, the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems on behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, in coordination with the federal state ‘Open Government’ working group. The countries and the municipal associations were involved in the management of the IT Planning Council project ‘Promotion of open government’ on the development of the prototype. Civil society actors were able to participate in various workshops.

From http://www.epractice.eu/ 03/15/2013

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ESTONIA: Leading Way with E-Government

 

The strength of the Saskatchewan economy is exhilarating. The province provides a plentiful supply of minerals and agricultural products that are needed worldwide and fuel the economy. In the face of a reoccurring recession in Europe and the slow recovery in the U.S., some argue that the province should take advantage of its situation and implement innovative measures to maintain long-term prosperity. One such measure is a world-class e-government. E-government uses the Internet to deliver services for citizens more conveniently and efficiently. We choose to use e-services because they take only minutes to complete and save us a trip to a government office. Among the "popular" ones is online payment for parking tickets. Saskatchewanians can also apply online for business registration, PST filing, health card, some operational permits, renew a driver’s licence, file a car insurance claim, and book a camp site.

 

Although it seems like a good start, we are in fact falling behind. According to the 2012 survey by the Stratford Institute for Digital Media, Saskatchewan placed 10th within Canada for the quality of e-government, outperforming only Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. In comparison to countries that are leaders in e-government, the gap is even more apparent. The main drawbacks of Saskatchewan’s e-government are the small number of e-services and the minimal integration of the collected information. E-services are often dispersed across many websites, each with its own login requirements. It can be challenging to remember usernames and passwords for your work and personal emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, amazon.com, and on top of that one for each of the government e-services. What is more, why do we have to provide the government the same information over and over? The digital age must have a solution to this. Fortunately, we do not need to re-invent the wheel. Saskatchewan can learn from other countries such as Estonia — a pioneer and leader of so called One-Stop-Shop Model of e-government.

 

A country of only 1.3 million inhabitants, Estonia has more in common with Saskatchewan than similar population size. It operates long term with budgetary surpluses. It is practically debt-free (six per cent of GDP) and maintains strong economic growth within recession-stricken Europe (3.2 per cent forecast for 2012). Estonia is a popular media example of a successful e-government. The success of its technological solutions has spilled over to create many well-known private companies. Sometimes dubbed "E-stonia" or "Start-up Nation", it is the birthplace of Skype, PayPal and Kazza. Estonia’s e-government rests on three equally important pillars. First is a network that connects more than 100 municipal and national databases. Its main benefit is that users do not have to repeatedly provide the same information. Information is re-purposed to complete future requests. Second, a country-wide electronic ID enables easy access to all e-services. Finally, Estonia’s e-government enables citizens and businesses to access hundreds of e-services from one website, bringing a new level of convenience to all users.

 

Estonia’s One-Stop-Shop e-government saves everyone’s time and reduces costs. An equally important benefit is that it allowed for new services such as online elections (first used in the world by Estonia in 2005) to appear. Citizens obtained new pathways to influence the political process via dedicated e-solutions. The country holds world records in the speed with which one can establish a business or file taxes. It created solutions to connect hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, and emergency personnel to improve health care. Teachers, students, and parents take advantage of electronic school features. As a result of these and hundreds of other e-services, public participation in the system is among the highest in the world.

 

Some other benefits of e-government are improved accountability, transparency, predictability and participation. As indicators of good governance, they play a decisive role in investment promotion. Modern e-government will bring technological expertise to Saskatchewan, which can help start new industries. Success will increase media exposure and will help market Saskatchewan worldwide. Finally, e-government provides just the tool to keep the government lean as the population grows, while reaching all corners of our sparsely populated province. Saskatchewan can tailor e-government to its needs and make it a one-stop destination that everybody knows about, talks about, and mainly that everybody uses. Applications that are functional, user-friendly and available on our phones can make government interactions brief and enjoyable, a trend that is already experienced by many in other countries. Estonia provides the proof that it is not the size of the country but the size of the ideas that matters.

From http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/ 03/28/2013

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The Government of the Republic of Moldova Has Won the International Prize BEST Mgovernment

 

The trophy "Best mGovernment" - the best performance of a government in mobile communication - has been bestowed to the Chisinau Executive by the GSMA, the world organization representing the interests of the mobile communications industry, for the "Mobile Signature" project. This electronic service, developed within a public-private partnership between the Government of the Republic of Moldova, the Electronic Governance Center, the center for Special Telecommunications and the mobile telephony operators Moldcell and Orange, has been launched on 14 September 2012. The prize "Best mGovernment" has been accepted by the Executive Director of the Electronic Governance Center, Stela Mocan, at the global congress of mobile telephony operators, which is held on 26 February in Barcelona. The "Mobile Signature" is an identity card of the citizen in the virtual world and the access key to all public services in electronic format. With the "Electronic Signature" citizens are authenticated in the virtual space and can remotely sign papers, reports, requests and declarations for institutions. The "Mobile Signature" can be requested from the mobile telephony operators Moldcell and Orange. The citizen shall have ready only the identity card. The "Mobile Signature" service is also available to citizens abroad. Through it, they can access services which they would traditionally request only back home, in the Republic of Moldova. Until March 31th 2013 the "Digital Signature" is free of charge. In the future, the price of the service will be accessible to all categories of citizens. The Republic of Moldova is amongst the first seven countries in the world which use the mobile signature. This is the second international prize in the area of Electronic Governance for the Government of the Republic of Moldova. The "Cloud Computing-MCloud" solution, implemented by the Executive of the Republic of Moldova, has won the international prize "Best Cloud Project in Central & Eastern Europe".

From http://egov.md/ 03/07/2013

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POLAND: Post Seeks Central Role in E-Government Services

 

Polish Post is pushing to take a wider role in connecting citizens with government agencies in Poland, through post offices and digital platforms. The state-owned company currently navigating its way through a newly-liberalised domestic postal market, says it is already providing electronic communication services for businesses, but is now looking to take a role in improving communications in the public sector. The company said in just five years, it believes around half of all official documents issued by public sector organisations like land registrars and the national courts will be picked up by citizens at their nearest post office. Paper documentation is also increasingly moving to electronic means with 60% of Polish households now accessing the Internet, it said. Polish Post has already launched a new hybrid mail service and electronic postcard service, and is in the process of expanding an electronic money order service. Later this year, the company will launch more electronic services including an e-letter service, eList, and an online postage service, eZnaczek.

 

In the field of e-government services, Polish Post believes it can facilitate the sending of millions of official documents to people, particularly those in rural areas where access to government services can be difficult. Poland’s Tax Office alone currently issues 10m certificates a year, while the National Court Register and the National Criminal Register issue about 4m official documents a year, offering “significant” potential for Polish Post, the company said. Janusz Wojtas, the Polish Post board member responsible for sales and marketing, said: “We operate the biggest retail network in Poland. We can say that we are everywhere. Because of this network, we can bring the state administration closer to the Polish people. “We want to become an integral part of the e-government project.” Wojtas said the government in the Czech Republic was already providing services through post offices, in a project that was demonstrating clear cost savings of EUR 4-5 per transaction. Polish Post said expanding into e-government services would have the added benefit of diversifying its revenue stream to provided added support for Poland’s universal postal service.

From http://postandparcel.info/ 03/13/2013

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UKRAINE: A Decade on, E-Government Is Still on Paper

 

The 10th anniversary of the idea of e-governance in Ukraine came and went on Feb. 24. The go-ahead for development of online democracy was given under the chairmanship of the then-Prime Minister and current President Viktor Yanukovych. The government decided to create a single electronic system of interaction with citizens and transfer the key administrative services to the Internet. This is where the process halted. E-government has long been a reality not only in distant countries like Singapore, the US or Sweden, but also in former Soviet countries, such as Georgia, Moldova or Estonia.

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 03/07/2013

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UK Signs E-Government Pact with Estonia

 

The UK government will share expertise and knowledge with the former Soviet country, a noted pioneer in e-government. The governments of the UK and Estonia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, agreeing that they will collaborate on digital government initiatives in future. Estonia is recognised as a world leader in e-government. Nine out of ten tax returns in the country are filled out online, as were a quarter of votes in its 2011 elections.  Under the new agreement, the two countries will promote contact and exchange between public officials, will share knowledge "in design, architecture and security of public information systems" and will collaborate to develop their respective capabilities. It was signed by UK government CTO Liam Maxwell and director of Estonia's Information Systems Authority Jaan Priisalu.

 

"As the first fruits of this new agreement, we are also announcing today the launch of three initiatives to consider open standards, identity verification and open data," said Maxwell. "These will be initially set up bilaterally between the UK and Estonia, but we welcome participation from other countries in future.” Priisalu said that Estonia stands to gain from the UK's experience of deploying online public services in a large economy. There is one significant difference in they way in which the current UK and Estonian governments approach e-government. Speaking at the London Conference on Cyberspace in 2011, Estonian president Toomas Ilves said that pivotal to the country's success in e-government has been its universal ID card scheme, which is carried by 90% of the population.  "If you want safe and secure e-government, you can’t do it without an ID card,” Ilves said at the conference. One of the first acts of the current UK government was to scrap plans for a universal ID card. Instead, it is developing a federated ID system, allowing citizens to reuse commercial identity authentication methods to access public services.

From http://www.information-age.com/ 02/27/2013

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NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Federal Budget Cuts Undermining Access-to-Information System - Watchdog

 

OTTAWA - The federal budget axe may be chopping away at citizens' right to information about government, a parliamentary watchdog warns. Suzanne Legault, information commissioner of Canada, says her office has seen a sharp rise in complaints about departments that take too long to answer requests under the Access to Information Act. The increase in such complaints over the last six months is likely linked to budget cuts that will remove 19,200 public servants from the federal workforce by 2015, Legault says in a new report. "If this trend continues, it could seriously stretch our investigative team," says the document. "We suspect ... that budget cuts may be a factor, since a jump in administrative complaints suggests that institutions are struggling to meet their basic obligations under the Act."

 

Legault's office is itself caught in the same budget squeeze, with funding reduced by five per cent as the number of complaints coming through the door rises, to 1,596 in 2012-2013, up by eight per cent from the previous year. Legault will tell MPs at a House of Commons committee later this month that she needs more staff to deal with the burgeoning workload. "Any meaningful solution could only come in the form of an infusion of resources so we could increase our staff complement," she says in a report tabled in Parliament. The budget squeeze is apparently having an effect similar to 1995, when the Chretien government's so-called program review, also intended to slay the deficit, ground down the access-to-information system because of staff cuts. Departments lost institutional memory with the departure of senior officials, former information commissioner John Reid reported to MPs, and document-filing systems suffered with the loss of clerical staff.

 

The latest round of cuts, begun in 2011 but accelerating in the 2012 budget, seem to have reversed a modest improvement in the timeliness of responses under the access-to-information system. "We're now back to an all-time low in timeliness," Legault said in an interview, citing statistics released in December by Tony Clement, president of the Treasury Board, which is responsible for the access-to-information system. The percentage of requests answered within the basic 30-day time frame specified by the Act hit 55 per cent in 2011-2012, the lowest ever and down almost five points from when the Tories first formed government in early 2006. A decade ago, 66 per cent were answered within 30 days. Departments also violated legislated deadlines for responses in one of every seven requests in 2011-2012, with most saying they lacked the staff necessary to process them.

 

"This is disquieting," said Legault. "There is a number of institutions where it's clearly having to do with the level of resourcing." But a spokeswoman for Clement says the government's cost-cutting has deliberately spared the access-to-information system. Access to information "has not been part of that," Andrea Mandel-Campbell said in an interview. She also noted there has been a 50 per cent increase in the number of requests arriving annually since 2006, currently more than 43,000 a year, many of them more complex than in the past. Given the extra workload, the government has done well in maintaining a "pretty steady state" for timeliness, she said. "We are keeping up." Mandel-Campbell also said the government is investing in new digital technology to make the access-to-information system more efficient and effective.

 

On Tuesday, Clement will appear in a how-to video on the Treasury Board website to launch a pilot project that will allow requesters to file and monitor requests online, and pay their fees electronically, all from a single portal. Currently, many departments require a completed paper form and cheque, usually sent by mail. There is currently no central clearing house for requests. The six-to-12-month pilot will include just three departments — Citizenship and Immigration, Treasury Board and Shared Services Canada — but is to be expanded eventually to all departments and agencies. Also in the works for later in 2013-2014 is an online tool to allow searches — by keyword, date or institution — of summaries of completed access-to-information requests government-wide. Departments and agencies currently are required to post such summaries monthly to their individual websites, but there is no central registry. An earlier registry known as the CAIRS system was killed by the Conservative government in early 2008.

 

The Access to Information Act came into force in 1983, when Canada was considered a global leader in government transparency. But the legislation, born in the pre-Internet era, has never been overhauled for the digital age, and of late Canada has been called an international laggard in freedom of information by human-rights groups and academics. The Act allows anyone resident in Canada to request government-controlled information for a $5 application fee, plus any additional fees for processing and photocopies. The law requires a response within 30 days, but permits departments to take sometimes lengthy extensions, and to black out broad categories of information, such as advice or security-related material. Aggrieved requesters can complain to the information commissioner without charge, though Legault's office lacks order-making power.

From http://www.thecanadianpress.com/ 04/08/2013

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How Large IT Departments Waste Time and Effort

 

A lack of self-awareness is OK for children and reality stars, but in the corporate world, the way others perceive you can you can mean the difference between getting an initiative funded and not. It can also affect your job security. To those outside the IT department, it may not be immediately evident as to what goes into keeping all forms of electronic communication running smoothly, ensuring your servers are maintained, and upgrading software. You have to ask yourselves, are you really being efficient or are there instances where your department wastes time? Here are some ways that IT really does waste time.

 

IT poison

John Wyss, the Director of Product Management at Intuit, believes that the problem is in micromanagement. He says that, in an IT department: “Work items and progress is managed down to the most microscopic level. Cost estimates are compiled, prioritization and cuts are rendered, and workload is distributed carefully down to each productive resource.” Most might consider this to be an example of best practice, tracking the progress of a project right down to the last detail. However, as Wyss goes on to say: “If you are building a bridge, a skyscraper or an aircraft, this is essential, because predictable progress and proper sequencing is more important than maximizing results. If you are trying to build software against a strong set of constraints, it’s poison.”

 

The devil’s in the details

Wyss’ point is that the constraints that tend to feature most heavily are the ones set by the budget and his belief is that too much of the budget can be spent on “process, tracking, trading of this work item for that, and the worst - lots of people debating whether to fix this bug or that - rather than just getting on with the work.” If the devil is in the details, it seems he’s nowhere more present than in the minutiae of software programming. But surely this is the result of bad project management?

 

Put the right people in charge

The real problem lies not in the strategies, but in removing the power to make decisions from those who are doing the work. By putting the IT engineers in charge of what they’re doing, you’re ensuring that they’re working within the parameters of what they know, rather than within the confines of a template that, no matter how well-informed, simply doesn’t cover all the variables. Templates tend to be inflexible, which is why IT specialists can waste an awful lot of time trying to make their work fit your ideas. In short, it might be better to let them get on with the job and report back later. As long as the results are what you wanted, surely the details of how they got there are almost irrelevant? In giving over the reins to those who know how to get the job done, you also communicate your faith in their abilities, which translates into better results. In addition, the shadow of accountability falls over that department, encouraging them to work together to ensure that your IT systems are the best they could be, without incurring time wastage.

From http://www.techrepublic.com/ 04/22/2013

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JAMAICA: E-Government Initiative Moving Ahead

 

The Government is moving ahead with its E-Government (E-Gov) initiative, aimed at using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to improve service delivery within the public sector. Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, said the transition to E-Government is now underway in earnest and at the end of next month, the Government will complete the winding up of the Central Information Technology Office (CITO). The agency was originally tasked with co-ordinating the Government’s ICT activities. “We will also complete the re-positioning of Fiscal Services Limited, the body previously responsible for the digital revenue functions of the Government,” Mr. Paulwell said. He was making his contribution to the 2013/14 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on April 24. The Minister said that CITO will become a policy unit within the Ministry, while Fiscal Services Limited will be rebranded as E-Government Jamaica Limited, empowered to provide general ICT services to the entire public sector.

 

There will also be a Chief Information Officer contracted to the Ministry, with responsibility for providing overarching technology vision and leadership in the development and implementation of Government’s ICT strategies and corporate programmes. “Perhaps the most critical project the new entity will be charged with implementing, is the cre­ation of the common Government Wide Area Network (GovNet),” the Minister said. He noted that at the moment, there are vast gaps in technology capacity throughout the Government, with some ministries, agencies and departments (MDAs) suffering from major deficiencies, and others being quite the opposite. GovNet will allow the seamless transfer of information between Government MDAs and other stakeholders. It will facilitate the harmonization of ICT infrastructure and systems across the public sector and strengthen the capacity of public institutions to deliver efficient and effective public goods and services.

 

Over time the mechanism will provide a suite of on-line services to the public, increasing the ease of doing business with Government. “The creation of E-Gov and GovNet will be the single most transformative policy shift for our civil service since Independence,” Mr. Paulwell said. He added that E-Gov will allow a farmer in St. Eliz­abeth who wants to export carrots, to complete all the applications for permits and licences online, pay all the requisite fees online, and even receive his documents online, without having to leave his farm or his community. “It will allow our police officers to target and track crime more effectively; it will allow our citizens to pay their taxes on time, and will generally allow for a more efficient interaction between Government and the people we serve,” Mr. Paulwell explained.

From http://www.jis.gov.jm/ 05/01/2013

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U.S.: New York Launches Open Data Portal

 

On Monday, March 11, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched a new open data website -- Open.ny.gov -- in an effort to open up data across the federal, state and local levels of government. The new portal contains data focusing on economic development, health, recreation and public services to name a few, according to the New York state Executive Chamber. “This new website will dramatically increase public access to one of our most valuable assets – data,” Cuomo said in a statement. “As it expands and evolves over time, Open.ny.gov will spark innovation, improve efficiency, promote accountability, and bring the people back into government.” The launch of the new open data website came on the same day a new executive order was issued by Cuomo mandating that state agencies review and catalog data collected and, from there, take the proper steps to make public data accessible on the new portal. The data posted to the portal must be done so in accordance with guidelines to be developed by the state Office of Information Technology Services (ITS). Under the new executive order, the ITS will consult with New York agencies and receive input as the guidelines are finalized. Currently more than 30 state agencies and authorities have already begun to open up their data for the website.

From http://www.govtech.com/ 03/11/2013

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How to Improve Government-to-Citizen Communication

 

The guiding principle of “Create once, publish everywhere” holds true for publishing online content, and its relevance is increasing in government-to-citizen digital communication. Public-sector alert notifications company GovDelivery CEO Scott Burns echoed this sentiment during the Digital Communications Tour: Northern California held on Wednesday, April 3 in Oakland, Calif. During the conference, Burns spoke to government employees involved with citizen outreach and emphasized key strategies to improve citizen engagement using constituent notifications. According to Burns, before reaching out to citizens with notifications such as emergency alerts and traffic updates, for example, agencies must first build a strong database of contacts. By consolidating existing email contact lists using automated and integrated solutions, governments can more efficiently add new contacts, and reach their constituents. Not surprisingly, Burns said governments should continue to think about the impact of cellphones, since more and more citizens are accessing email and messages on their phones. Steve Ressler, founder and CEO of public-sector knowledge network GovLoop, said mobile use is definitely on the rise and that there are many ways government departments can communicate with citizens via their cellphones.

 

“We’re seeing mobile change how we do citizen engagement, so you’re at a BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] station and you can text out when the latest train is coming,” Ressler said. COPE [create once, publish everywhere] is an effective strategy to get updates and notifications to the public, eliminating redundancies while still getting the message out to the people who need it. Sending one message in multiple forms (press release, social media, text message) can be effective as long as the information being sent out is worth distributing through multiple channels. “It’s not a new concept, but government communication is very complicated. You have lots of different topics of information being managed in many different agencies,” Burns said. “It is a trend, it’s not a cure-all, but it is an important trend because [governments] have to do more with constrained resources.” But some government employees feel departments have a long way to go before government-to-citizen communication is a fine-tuned instrument. Nicole Neditch, Oakland's online engagement manager, said there’s still room for improvement. “I think governments are really far behind as far as the way in which people interact with websites,” Neditch said. “It has been a one-way communication for a long time and now people are starting to dive into a two-way conversation on the Web. I think we’re going to see a lot more services being offered online in the government sector.”

From http://www.govtech.com/ 04/05/2013

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CHINA: Has Over 170,000 Government Microblogs

 

China had more than 170,000 government microblogs by the end of last year, according to a report issued on Wednesday.The annual report by the E-Government Research Center under the China Academy of Governance stated that the country has 176,714 government microblog accounts as of Dec. 20, 2012, an increase of almost 2.5 times from the previous year.Some 113,382 of these accounts are run by Communist Party of China committees, legislatures, governments, political advisors, Party disciplinary watchdogs as well as judicial and prosecutorial agencies and government-sponsored institutions.The remaining 63,332 are kept by officials and staff members of such agencies, the report said.It added that a great number of these accounts are run by agencies and individuals associated with the public security and police system, with the proportions respectively accounting for 37 percent of authorities' microblogs and 39 percent of the individual accounts.The report is based on research of microblog accounts with weibo.com, t.qq.com, t.home.news.cn and t.people.com.cn, four major Chinese microblogging service providers.The identities of operators of the targeted accounts are all verified by the service providers.Among all the accounts run by individual officials, about 66 percent were opened by officials at grass-roots levels and only 1 percent are maintained by provincial or ministerial-level leaders.The report said government microblogs have developed from simple outlets for disclosing information to become more integrated platforms for the government to communicate with the public and provide services.It also suggested that authorities and officials should further improve the quality of these microblogs.

From http://china.org.cn/ 03/27/2013

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JAPAN: To Launch National Open Data Portal

 

The Japanese Government will be launching its National Open Data Portal as part of its commitment to create an environment where data is used by citizens to promote innovation, creative industries and knowledge-based services. Hiroichi Kawashima, former CIO of the Government of Saga Prefecture and currently one of the key committee members working on the project, says the Government is hoping to create a portal similar to that of the USGovernment’s data.gov. “At present, we are trying to settle technical issues concerning data format and standardisation so that we can make the data available in machine readable format. In addition, the committee is also studying legal aspects of sharing data to the public,” says Kawashima.

 

In the previous year, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) launched a test version of an Open Data portal called ‘Open Data METI’ which enables users to access information related to economic and trade affairs. According to Kawashima, user feedback on the portal will help them in identifying what data should be made available to the public and how it should be shared. While Kawashima cannot reveal a tentative date on when the portal will be launched, he says much effort is being placed on addressing legal issues. “We cannot simply upload government data on the web because Japan has ‘delicate’ copyright and national asset laws that we have to sort out before we begin sharing data to the public and the private sector,” he says.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/01/2013

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Science & ICT Ministry Strives to Create Jobs, New Industries

 

The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning has placed the focus of its policy direction for 2013 on creation of jobs, new industries and new demands. Choi Moon-ki, who tapped to head the science & information, communication and technology (ICT) ministry, said that the government will create an environment where everybody can suggest fresh ideas and establish venture companies. At the same time, the ministry plans to cement the foundation of science technology and ICT by intensively fostering basic science and software (SW) fields. In a recent briefing on the 2013 policy goals to President Park Geun-hye, he said that the ministry will create more jobs by fostering a climate for business start-ups and bringing the country's scientific research close to a world-class level.

 

Along with this, the minister said that the ministry will make doubled efforts to create communication and Internet environment, which will be helpful to the people's daily life, by pulling down communication fees and expelling Active X from major websites. "The ministry will also launch a government-wide project, under which social issues such as food safety and environmental accidents could be resolved through scientific technology," said Choi, the first minister of the newly established ministry.The ministry was created under the government's reorganization plan, and is the icon of the Park administration's "creative economy," where scientific technology and information technology play key roles in the country's economic growth. Earlier in the year, President Park said that the ministry will be a main government agency responsible for the nation's future economic growth and job creation. She has repeatedly stressed that ICT is a future growth engine for the country.

 

Noting that the ministry will extend support and strengthen policy coordination with related agencies in a bid to create an environment for business start-ups, he said, "It will begin a project to create 10 new industries by 2017 through combination of science, ICT and culture." It aims at creating a total of 408,000 new jobs by 2017, about 90,000 of which are to come from business start-ups. Related to this, the ministry projects to help universities provide training programs to students who want to be involved in business start-ups. Choi said the ministry will work to boost scientific research and development with sales of state-funded institutes rising to 500 billion won in 2017 from 107 billion won in 2012. Stressing that the ministry will nurture scientific minds and groom the knowledge industry, he said it plans to boost output of the country's software industry to 100 trillion won in 2017 from 31.2 trillion won in 2012.

 

"We will also exert all-out efforts to let the country boast the world's fastest wireless and wired network in 2017 with the number of public Wi-Fi zones saoring to 10,000 in 2017 from 2,000 in 2012, and gigabit speed Internet connections available in most parts of the country as well," said Choi. The ministry is also moving to encourage local mobile operators to phase out subscription fees by 2015. The fee currently ranges from 24,000 won to 39,000 won. The ministry expects the abolition of a mobile subscription fee to cut mobile charge by around 500 billion won annually. "In particular, we will actively push ahead with building a data base (DB) of information useful for the private sector, including culture and medical service," he said. He added that the ministry will make a strong push for the national informatization project, which grafts ICT, the vitamin of the creative economy, onto a variety of fields, including traditional markets, agriculture and small- and medium-sized enterprises.

From http://www.koreaittimes.com/ 04/22/2013

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IT Educational Council to Be Set Up in Japan

 

A consortium of about 30 computer, telecommunications and textbook companies in Japan are forming a council to promote the use of IT in schools, reports the Nikkei. About ten firms will become founding members, including Microsoft Japan, NTT Docomo, NEC, Fujitsu, Intel, Uchida Yoko, Tokyo Shoseki and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East. An additional twenty companies or so, including device makers and textbook publishers, will also take part in the move. The move is intended to provide consultation services for schools and municipal governments, and to propose IT systems for education, to be developed by members of the group. This comes at a time when the government plans to provide primary and secondary school students with tablet computers by 2020. Member companies will offer funds, devices, and training personnel, aiming to set up IT seminars for teachers and to conduct demonstrations at schools around the country.

From http://www.telecompaper.com/ 05/09/2013

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S. KOREA: Gov’t to Open Big Data Center

 

The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning has announced a plan to establish an information center on big data. The ministry said that with the state-run National Information Society Agency, it will establish the big data center where anyone can analyze and utilize big data. The center will also boost the introduction of big data services nationwide. The ministry will select someone to build the center through competitive bidding by next month and open it on a trial basis in September. Big data refers to a huge and extensive collection of data sets created by IT devices in everyday life, such as cell phone signals and records, messages on social media sites, digital pictures and videos, and online and mobile purchase transactions. The use of big data can generate added value if it is analyzed and applied to businesses. 

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 05/10/2013

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INDONESIA: Jakarta to Roll Out E-Application System for Building Permits

 

The Jakarta Construction Supervision and Regulation Agency (P2B), Indonesia will launch an electronic system to enable an online application of building permits. The initiative is in a bid to curb the epidemic of building permit violations that have spread across the city’s five municipalities, said P2B Head I Putu Ngurah Indiana. Developers and building owners have the tendency to avoid applying for a building permit properly due to its difficult and slow process they have to go through, he said. According to him, the complication of the process has resulted in violations ranging from the lack a permit entirely of to misappropriation of permits, and applies to all kinds of buildings from offices to houses. “Many householders violate permits by changing the function of their homes into restaurants, boutiques, private schools and etc, while owners of office buildings violate permits by adding more floors than permitted,” Indiana said. “With the online system, citizens only have to upload all the required documents and agency staff will verify them. We will issue them a permit if they are eligible,” he said. The system is due to come online later this year. The system is expected to be launched by end of this year.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/15/2013

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Indonesia’s President Joins Twitter, Attracts 1 Mil Followers

 

Twitter yesterday welcomed Indonesia’s President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, or more popularly known as SBY, on to the popular microblogging site and thanked him for his initiative to engage citizens online. Since its launch, the President has gained over 1 million followers, making him the third most popular South East Asian Leader on Twitter, just behind Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak. According to Julian Aldrin Pasha, the presidential spokesperson, the President will put his own initials at the end of the tweets to let people know the tweets are from him. However, there will also be a team who will help the President manage the account from time to time. "He is aware of the critics in the social media. The consequences have been thought thoroughly. He is willing to respond to the dynamics in Twitter that sometimes there is information not based on the real facts,” he said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/18/2013

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Indonesian City Police Urged to Use Twitter and Facebook

 

Indonesia’s Tangerang Metro Police required all police subprecincts and their officers to create Twitter and Facebook accounts in a bid to improve citizen engagement and services to the public. Tangerang Metro Police Chief Sr Comr Wahyu Widada said on April 17 that social media have potential to help police share and receive information directly with citizens. “Technology continues to develop and many of our community’s members use social networking sites to communicate and share information with one another. So why don’t we? The police should also use these sites for similar purposes,” he said. Engaging with residents closely would help on-duty officers or those on standby to be ready for immediate follow up on any incidents or information can be sent to them by locals instantly, he added. “Community members can inform officers via Facebook or Twitter about traffic congestion, accidents or even crimes, which would allow officers to follow up the information on the spot,” Widada said.

 

He believed that social media like Twitter and Facebook would help the development of interactive communication between the police and civil society as community members could deliver the latest updated information. “We will mobilise all our officers to open accounts on popular social media sites so that they can feel closer to the community. Residents who need information from the police can also ask directly and get a quick response,” he said. The Tangerang Metro Police may follow the step taken by Jakarta Police’s Traffic Management Center (TMC), whose Twitter account @TMCPoldaMetro and Instagram’s Tmcpoldametro are considered the most reliable sources of moment-to-moment information on the state of traffic in the capital. Tangerang is a city located in Banten Province — 25 kilometres west of Jakarta. It is considered an industrial and manufacturing zone on the Java island and home to over 1,000 factoris. It has population of about 1.8 million.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/19/2013

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E-Voting Simulations Conducted in Indonesian Elections

 

The General Election Commission of Bantaeng Regency in Indonesia conducted simulations of e-voting in the elections held on 17 April. Out of the 361 polling stations set up in the regency, 42 participated in the e-voting simulation. The votes cast under this project were not counted or publicised, but used for research purposes to test the viability of electronic voting in Indonesia, and make a recommendation to the House of Representatives about the election bill currently being drafted. The pilot project received positive responses from participants who tested it out. Muhammad Alhamid, Chairman of the Election Supervisory Committee (Bawaslu), said that e-voting would reduce the amount of money the government spends on organising local elections, and eliminate potential violations during ballot counting. Indonesia intends to introduce electronic voting for the presidential elections in 2014. In the past, problems that emerged with e-voting included technological illiteracy, lack of voter confidence in the electronic system, and cost and efficiency of e-voting equipment and system maintenance.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/30/2013

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MALAYSIA: Expanding E-Procurement Service

 

The Government of Malaysia is expanding its flagship e-procurement system called e-Perolehan (eP) by opening more eP centres nationwide to improve efficiency and transparency in government spending. The e-Perolehan initiative is a project under the Multimedia Super Corridor initiative. The system transforms the manual procurement practice into an electronic, internet-based practice. Through the system, suppliers and contractors can receive, manage and process orders or payments from Government agencies through transactions done electronically on the Internet. Likewise, it enables Government agencies nationwide to procure goods and services from their suppliers electronically. Since its launch in 2000, the system has transformed the government-to-business procurement landscape by leveraging on ICT to allow the Government to achieve greater productivity, cost efficiencies and transparency.

 

Dato’ Mohd Shafiq Bin Abdullah, Project Director of the e-Procurement unit at the Ministry of Finance, told FutureGov that as of 2012, the total amount that has been transacted through the eP system is RM15.485 billion (USD 4.9 billion), while savings for Government procurement through eBidding is RM26 million (USD 8.3 million). At present, apart from the three eP centres at the Procurement Division of the Ministry of Finance in Putrajaya, Sabah, and Sarawak, the public may now visit 16 eP centres in other states. The eP centres have been expanded to provide advice and assistance to suppliers in all aspects of the Ministry of Finance licence registration, as well as acquisition transactions with the government. The centres provide free trainings and learning programmes to suppliers so they can familiarise themselves with the e-Perolehan system. To view a complete directory of eP centres, please refer to this link.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/22/2013

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PHILIPPINES: To Standardise Template of Government Websites

 

162 webmasters from different government agencies are set to undergo intensive training on how they can develop and manage their respective government websites, based on a template specially designed to give the web portals a standard “look” and “feel”. The Website Template Project is a response to an Executive Order mandating all government websites to have a standard “look” and “feel”. In addition, it also supports the Department of Science and Technology’s goal to improve accessibility and security of government websites by providing a central web hosting facility. According to an official statement, the training series will instruct the webmasters on how they can integrate the Government Website Template, including its policies and standards, using Joomla, Drupal and WordPress as content management systems (CMS).

 

“Through the standardised websites, Local Government Units, National Government Agencies and State Universities and Colleges will experience ease in navigation and use of digital assets,” said Antonette Torres, iGovPhil Project Manager. “More than that, content, news updates, public documents and other services will be easily accessible to the citizens.” The Government Website Template is an initiative under the Integrated Government Philippines (iGovPhil) project led by the Advanced Science and Technology Institute and Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) and in collaboration with the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO). The iGovPhil project aims to enhance government efficiency and effectiveness by using and putting relevant mechanisms to implement interactive, interconnected and interoperable government applications. Its components include: a Government Email system, Public Key Infrastructure to enhance the security of transactions and communications, the National Records Management Information System (NARMIS), a secure payment gateway, secure data centers and integrated fiber optic network to interconnect the various agencies of government.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/25/2013

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The Philippines to Enhance E-Procurement System

 

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Philippines, will implement new membership types for its Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS), allowing users to access additional features. "The Aquino administration remains committed to improving openness and transparency in governance through our digitization efforts," said the DBM Secretary Florencio Abad. . Registered suppliers will be subjected to additional fees, which will allow them to access additional user features such as electronic bidding and electronic payment, he added. Two new membership schemes will be introduced. They are Blue Membership and Platinum Membership.  For the Blue Membership, suppliers will be charged PHP 3,000 (US$ 73) per annum for access to extra features. The Blue members will be able to download PhilGEPS documents and print their own PhilGEPS registration certificate as well as one additional contact user for the organisation.  Users of the system have long requested for this feature to ease the transaction process, usually done personally at the PhilGEPS office or through postal service.

 

For Platinum Members, PHP 5,000 (US$ 121.87) will be charged annually and exclusive PhilGEPS features will be enabled. These include the uploading of eligibility documents and their products catalogue in the system, direct access to a list of consultants, and online bid submission. Other features that will soon be available to them include e-payment, bid documents, and registration fees. The e-payment will help facilitate electronic and cashless payments for purchases at the virtual store.  "By allowing government agencies to conduct all phases of the procurement process online, we can ensure that public spending is more efficient and, at the same time, open to scrutiny. These efforts to further digitise procurement processes, in the spirit of transparency and accountability, would allow us to avert corruption, collusion and other transaction irregularities," Abad added.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/28/2013

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Philippine Agriculture Department Boosts Transparency with Open Data Portal

 

As support to President Aquino’s call for transparency, the Department of Agriculture launched its open data portal called DAAN (Department of Agriculture Accountability Network) website which aims to promote public awareness of its community-focused projects and activities nationwide. The portal provides a library of the agency’s on-going and completed projects nationwide. It also details their fund allocations and cumulative disbursements, completion period, percentage of accomplishment and other relevant data, including regularly updated photos, which were provided by the attached agencies, corporations and regional field units of the Department of Agriculture. In addition, as part of its efforts to enhance the portal, the agency has also started mapping the projects through GPS. Mapped projects include farm to market roads, irrigation, post-harvest facilities, production support facilities, market related infrastructure, post-harvest equipment and machines as well as other major projects nationwide. Furthermore, users are encouraged to post their comments on the projects so as to help the agency improve its project management activities.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/19/2013

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Philippine Province Introduces Electronic Filing and Payment System

 

The Bureau of Internal Revenue will be introducing a new electronic filing and payment system of taxes (eFPS) in the national government offices of the province of Laguna, as part of its efforts to give citizens a more convenient tax filing experience. The Province of Laguna is located in the southeast of Metro Manila and has a total population of 2,669,847, according to 2010 statistics. eFPS is a system developed and maintained by the BIR for electronically filing tax returns, including attachments, if any, and paying taxes due through the internet. Payments are made electronically through the internet banking facilities of authorised agent banks. The system gives users a more convenient and interactive option to file and pay their taxes. In addition, it minimises errors because all of the information supplied by the tax payer is validated by the system before final submission.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/03/2013

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SINGAPORE: Tops International E-Government Rankings

 

The Waseda University Institute of e-Government in Japan released its ninth annual international e-government rankings of 55 countries last week. Retaining its position from 2012, Singapore topped the rankings this year, followed by Finland and USA. Factors such as Singapore’s new e-citizen portal, along with the high coverage of fibre-based broadband, upgrades to mobile government, and OneInbox (a secured platform allowing citizens to receive government letters electronically) led to Singapore’s high rank. Asian nations constitute 40 per cent of the top ten countries this year. Taiwan is ranked eighth, up from tenth in 2012, and Japan has moved from rank eight to rank six. South Korea remains in the top ten at rank four, down from its third position last year. Australia, however, moved from its seventh position in 2012 to 11th this year.

 

The 55 nations included in the study are assessed on seven criteria: national portal, presence and mandate of the government CIO, e-services provided to citizens (such as e-voting and e-tax), promotion of e-government, network infrastructure, digital inclusion, and use of ICT for improving internal processes of the government. The 2013 study identified open data and national ID card programmes as new trends this year. Trends identified in 2012, including cloud computing, mobile technology, social media, and cybersecurity, remained popular amongst governments. These annual rankings by Waseda University are led by Dr Toshio Obi, Director of Institute of e-Government, in collaboration with the International Academy of CIO. Organisations such as the United Nations, International Telecommunication Union (ITU – the UN’s ICT agency) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) contributed to the assessment.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/02/2013

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Mobile Mental Health Outreach Team to Be Set Up in July

 

SINGAPORE: A new mobile team will be set up in July to help those who may be affected by mental conditions. The Mobile Mental Health Outreach Team will take calls from members of the community and send case workers to follow up. This was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at a Singapore Association for Mental Health's (SAMH) charity dinner on Friday evening. SAMH aims to promote mental wellness and empower people with mental illnesses to rebuild their lives. The association is hoping to raise S$500,000 for its cause. 

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 05/03/2013

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Singapore's ICT Authority Changes Leadership

 

Starting 10 June 2013, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) will be welcoming Steven Leonard and Jacqueline Poh as new members of its executive leadership team. Steven Leonard, an industry veteran with more than 28 years of international experience working in global technology firms, will have executive leadership responsibility for IDA as the new Deputy Chairman. He will focus primarily on industry promotion and development. This includes strategic planning and development of manpower for the infocomm sector, infrastructure development, spearheading the transformation of innovative start-ups and local enterprises, and overseeing various national cross-sectoral programmes. Meanwhile, Jacqueline Poh, former Divisional Director of the Workplace Policy and Strategy Division at Ministry of Manpower (MOM), will be taking the lead as IDA’s Managing Director. She will be leading IDA’s policy and regulatory functions, which include developing infocomm policy, telecoms regulation and information security, as well as guide the strategic Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO) function.

 

On the new management appointments, IDA Chairman, Yong Ying-I said, “Infocomm technology is now pervasive, transforming how societies function, how government engages with citizens, and how business is done. The possibilities and the challenges have increased. The appointments of an executive Deputy Chairman and a Managing Director at IDA, who bring strong private sector and public sector experiences with them, will enable IDA to more strongly drive impactful transformation across a broad range of sectors and issues affecting our economy, society and government.”  The current IDA CEO, Mr Ronnie Tay, will return to the Administrative Service from 10 June 2013 for another posting.  Mr Tay has helmed IDA since November 2007 and under his leadership, Singapore has successfully deployed the Next Gen Nationwide Broadband Network to 95 per cent of homes as well as businesses, with more than 250,000 fibre broadband subscribers. For the infocomm industry, the S$46 million Infocomm Industry Productivity Roadmap was launched in 2011 to push for productivity in the ICT sector, benefitting more than 70 companies and 6,700 infocomm professionals to date. Similarly, through the Infocomm@SME programme, more than 5,000 SMEs have benefitted from the iSprint grant scheme to use infocomm to enhance business productivity. In addition, various sectoral transformation programmes for education, healthcare, finance, logistics and transport were implemented, and the eGov2015 masterplan was launched in 2011.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/08/2013

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THAILAND: To Launch Mobile App for Income Tax Submission

 

The Revenue Department (RD), Thailand will launch a mobile app for the submission of personal income tax by mid of March as the latest e-service for smart phone users. RD Director-General Satit Rungkasiri said that the department has been piloted the app and is now confident that the new mobile service is user-friendly, fast, and convenient for users. “Moreover, the app can facilitate high-security financial transactions with banks via mobile phones.” Rungkasiri believed the new app will provide a more convenient mean for taxpayers and encourage them to adopt this channel to submit their tax information. “Next year, we may see higher numbers of taxpayers using mobile phone to submit and pay taxes more than doing it via internet next year,” he added.  The project started at the mid of 2012, and will now only be available for half a month before the deadline of the personal income tax submission at the end of March, according to him. “It is a good step as we can test the system,” he said and added that the app will be developed further to be more user-friendly, more casual looking and interesting interface. “Mobile service will replace the existing systems because almost all taxpayers are now using smartphone,” he added.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/01/2013

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VIETNAM: HCM City Funds Updates for Government IT Infrastructure

 

The municipal administration plans to spend VND300 billion (US$14.3 million) this year on furtherm developing E-governance in HCM City.  This is three times the investment made in 2012, the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper said in a report on Saturday. This huge investment from the State budget for application of information technology in 2013 offers a "golden opportunity" for the city's efforts to build and develop its E-Government, the report cited Nguyen Anh Tuan, Deputy Director of HCM City Department of Information and Communications, as saying. In the 2005-2012 period, the city authority has carried out 1,012 IT projects with a total investment of VND665 billion ($32.7 million), meaning an average invesment of VND83 billion per year to develop E-governance. Tuan said these investments were used to develop IT infrastructure including hardware and software, data bases and to train staff in 64 State departments and agencies.

 

The IT projects have helped created email addresses for nearly 11,000 Government officials and 80 websites for Government agencies in the city. They have helped the city win official recognition as the State agency at the city/province as well as the district levels to have applied IT most effectively. However, the investments in IT applications of previous years were inadequate, Tuan said, adding that machinery and equipment at several agencies have become outdated and had to be updated. With the new investment outlay for this year, the Department of Information and Communications plans to replace outdated machinery and equipment, creating the most favourable conditions for people and businesses to contact State agencies and district authorities. In particular, it plans to pay greater attention to network security. The city authorities will mobilise medium and small IT enterprises to take part in these projects, instead of inviting big companies as it has done in previous years. Tuan also said that a conference to review IT application at State agencies and district administrations will be held in mid-April.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 04/08/2013

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INDIA: Kerala to Complete E-Gov Projects by March CM

 

Kochi:  Kerala had lagged in making use of the IT wave and failed to capitalise on the advantages of information technology but it would complete the e-Governance projects by the end of next month, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said. He was speaking at a function to declare Ernakulum district as e-District here. With this six districts in the state have now become e-Districts. He said the Centre had given 30 days time to complete the e-Governance project. This would enable the citizens to obtain certificates online from various departments from a network of taluk offices, 124 village offices and 165 Akshaya centres. Various certificates including caste, identity, relationship, nativity, succession and liability would be available through Akshaya centres.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 02/27/2013

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Goa Police Decide to Install CCTNS

 

The Goa police have decided to implement the crime and criminal tracking network and systems (CCTNS), worried about the crime detection rate and the efficiency and effectiveness of the police department. It will enhance outcomes in crime investigation, tracking of criminals and enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of police departments. Through CCTNS, the police will create and maintain databases on crime and criminals in digital form for sharing by all stakeholders in the system, in order to effectively meet the challenges of crime control and the maintenance of public order. Atmaram Deshpande, superintendent of police, said the first phase of this project would be completed in October, and the second phase would be completed by March, 2014. This system can be accessed by citizens through multiple, transparent, and easily accessible channels (portal, mobile, call centre, etc.) in a citizen-friendly manner. Citizens can also file their complaint sitting at home, and can keep track of their application and complaints.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 03/06/2013

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Integrated Systems for Better E-Gov Experts

 

To make e-governance work in India there is a need to develop integrated systems in place of the existing independent modules, according to experts. While highlighting different aspects of the subject during a one-day workshop on “e- governance and National E- Governance Plan” organised by the Computer Centre, Panjab University, experts stressed that while the young and urban population has become extremely demanding, there is still a resistance among the rural population towards the e-governance platforms. While speaking on the e- governance facilities available in the education sector, Professor Renu Vij from the University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET) said: “The students have become extremely tech-savvy these days and it has become a challenging task for the faculty to meet their expectations. Although there are many e- governance platforms available, there is a need for integrated systems rather than the existing independent modules so as to make the concept successful. ” Sonal Chawla, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, PU informed: “E- governance has made a marginal impact on the level of corruption due to lack of motivation among the top level officials to root out the menace. Moreover, the e-governance facilities have been introduced in parts in the country and there is a need for a holistic approach so that even the rural can relate with the concept. ”

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 03/13/2013

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Kerala Integrates E-Payment with E-Procurement

 

Kerala IT department has integrated an e-payment mechanism to its existing e-procurement system wherein bidders can make online payment towards tender document fees and EMD. Moreover Government can make online refunds of EMD amount to the unsuccessful bidder’s bank account in a time bound manner. This move is aimed at further enhancing transparency and for ensuring complete confidentiality and anonymity in the Government tendering process. The integration of e-payment system will replace the present, conventional system of payment of tender document fees and Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) through Demand Drafts. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will formally launch e-payment system in government procurements on April 17, 2013.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 04/17/2013

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Jammu and Kashmir Gets SDC for Supporting E-Governance Initiatives

 

Jammu and Kashmir has got a State Data Centre (SDC) for supporting e-Governance initiatives in the state. “We have setup a SDC for supporting e-Governance initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir. The centre has been setup by the IT department under the National e-Governance plan (NeGP),” said Feroz Ahmed Khan, Minister of state for Information Technology The data centre has been developed as a secure infrastructure for hosting and managing e-Governance application of different departments, Khan said adding, it is the first IT infrastructure project commissioned in the state. The SDC will provide facilities like central repository of the state, secure data storage, disaster recovery and data set of the National Population Register (NPR).

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 05/01/2013

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E-Voting Should Be Regular Practice

 

There are different stakeholders and different components of an election. Voters are one of the stakeholders. The most important component of the elections is the privacy of the voters. Voters list is another component. A lot of people complain that their information published in the voters’ list is incorrect. Third component is polling centers. Every year there is addition to the population, so new polling centers have to be created for this addition in the population and the voters have to be correctly informed about their polling centers. Political parties are other stakeholders. Many times we receive complaints from the parties that the votes casted for one party go to the account of another party. To address this problem we have upgraded our Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) with new security features. For parliamentary and assembly elections, we use the voter list shared by the Chief Electoral Officer of Maharashtra under the Government of India supervision. The State Election Commission conducts the elections of the Municipal Corporations, Zilla Parishads and Gram Panchayat across the state. So we have to break this list down according to wards with keeping in mind that the voters would not face any difficulty in terms of location of the polling booths and other related factors. The State Election Commission has to take care of these issues while preparing for elections to ensure that the elections are a happy and pleasant experience where voters would want to step out of the house and go for polls. While deciding about the polling centers, we have to think of trivial yet important issues to ensure comfort of the voters. To avoid long queues outside the polling booths, we have increased the number of booths. Earlier the voters allotted to per booth were 1000-1200, we have reduced this number now to 800 so that voters would not need to stand in the queue for a long time. We  also prefer keeping the polling booths on ground floors to avoid inconvenience to elderly, ill and disabled voters. In certain unavoidable situations, where polling booths are kept on upper floors, we make arrangements for Palakis. Besides, we also have to make provisions for basic necessities like drinking water and toilets.

 

To make voters easier to find directions to their polling centers, we have displayed maps on our website. We also have deployed a call centre and a helpline on which voters contact to find out related information. Through such initiatives, we ensure that the elections are a comfortable experience. We are also making efforts to bring in e-voting; however because of security issue we have not yet introduced it. I would like e-voting to be a regular practice in Maharashtra. My vision was to minimize corruption and unwanted practices in the elections. I want to present a more comfortable and pleasant experience to the voters. The laws are implemented as per the election rule book. We wanted everything to be voter-centric. Digitalization has increased accessibility to voters and reduced the possibility of wrong-doing. For example, we have published on our website the affidavits filed by the candidates at the time of elections. Anybody can see it and learn about the candidates. We also have published newspaper coverage of election so that voters can stay updated about the elections and their candidates.

 

In addition to our website, we are using SMS service to mobilize voters on the day of poll. We tell them it is poll day and your vote is very precious to us, please come out and vote. This service is available in both Marathi and English. This has proved to be a good success as a lakhs of people come to vote. In the initial stages, we are trying to introduce e-voting for the officials on the election duty. This will include the polling centre officials, police, guards and government officers. Officials on election duty, most often, cannot cast their vote as they cannot be physically present at the polling booth allotted to them. I want to begin with these personnel to implement e-voting in the state. First, we will register all the voters opted for e-voting. Once a voter chooses to cast his/her vote through e-voting, they will be removed  from the list of the voters casting their votes at the polling booth. A mobile van equipped with a highly secured computer and connectivity will reach the polling centers where the staff on election duty can cast their vote. Security is the most challenging part of e-voting. Considering the sensitivity of the vote, it must not leak or misused either by lure or by intimidation.

 

Election mechanism of each country has its own advantages and disadvantages; it has its own political set up. We have designed a system that suits our environment. Election system in India has its own challenges. This is why we have to go by our condition and accordingly design an e-voting pattern. I want the elections to be fair and free. I will be happy if e-voting is introduced on village level as well. I am sure that voters will find it comfortable to go to nearby kiosks to their home and vote. In 2012 elections we did another experiment of setting up polling booths in large residential complexes. We had set up polling booths at societies with more than 1,000 voters. We received a very positive response from the voters. We are planning to expand on this idea.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 05/11/2013

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Setting New Milestones in E-Governance

 

While executing projects for the government,we are mainly focused on two areas – systems integration (SI) projects and citizen centric projects. In fact, e-Governance has led to expanding opportunities for Vakrangee. We are executing number of projects such as CSC and BCA in about 50000 locations in our last mile Touch-Point business, wherein we, as the interface between Government and Citizen,deliver the government services to the citizens using state-of-art technology. We have ventured into the CSC business in the pursuit of expansion of our Touch-Point Business. Now, our centres at the gram panchayat level in Rajasthan and Punjab are delivering numerous G2C and B2C services such as Land Record, Election I-Card, NREGS Card, Cast/Domicile/Birth/Income Certificate etc. at the doorstep of the citizen. We take pride in the fact that our systems are making it possible for citizens to access various government service without having to visit any government office. As far as the System Integration Projects are concerned, I would like to mention the IGRS Maharashtra project. As we have successfully implemented it. Then we are also doing an end to end smart card based PDS project for the government of Harayana. We are also providing the point of sale terminals at 9,000 fair price shops. After doing UIDAI enrolment, we are actually providing smart card based ration cards. In this, all 55 lakh households in Harayana will finally have biometric ration cards.

 

The biometrics being captured are the same as what is being done under Aadhaar. In fact, it is an Aadhaar based project. First AADHAR enrolment is done and then the biometric ration card gets processed. This project is already rolled out in the four blocks of Harayana.As of now we have covered more than one lakh fifty thousand families. This is the largest automated PDS project in the country.We are also part of the NPR data digitisation project execution. Through this the data of all the citizens is being digitized. We have done a major share of that project. Our focus is brining excellence in execution. We bring tremendous amount of efficiency into the projects that we execute, when it comes to delivering results we are far ahead of all our competitors. We started the CSCs project in Rajasthan; we got the project awarded in the month of June last year and the State Government had given us one year of time to execute it. I am glad to say that we have managed to complete the rollout of the project in just first four months. All the  projects are now running successfully. We devote so much of time to make sure that the projects rollout on time and as per the client determined SLAs. Take the example of UIDAI project, on paper it seems to be a mere enrolment drive, but in spirit the UIDAI initiative is great scope. It is about ensuring that every citizen in the country has access to benefits from the government, it is about ensuring that student scholarships and senior citizen pensions get directly delivered to them in their villages through their AADHAR linked bank accounts. We have done more than 3.5 crore enrolments for UIDAI in the country.In Maharashtra we have done close to 60 lakh enrolments. For last four months we have been the number one in the country when it comes to Aadhaar enrolments and generation.

 

To facilitate faster AADHAR enrolment of beneficiaries of 26 schemes under Direct Benefit Transfer we have also done some innovations like mega centres. This innovation has been done in close coordination with the Departmentof Information Technology in Maharashtra.Shri Rajesh Aggarwal, IT Secretary,Maharashtra, is an inspiration behind this project.Under mega centres we setup large number of kits at a single location. 10 to 20 kits are there to ensure that people do not have to waste their entire day for standing in queues. We have done this project in Mumbai and Thane. Now we have been asked to launch similar centres in Pune and Nagpur also. In Mega Centres 2000 to 3000 enrolments can be done in a single day. We have also come up with mobile enrolment van for senior citizens and differently-abled people. In financial inclusion we have been awarded Common BCA contract for 2 clusters covering 3 states for launching initiatives related to setting up ultra small branches of all the public sector banks through BCA model (Banking) in every panchayat. Maharashtra is one cluster and Rajasthan and Delhi combined comprise the second cluster. We will be providing doorstep banking and direct benefits transfer. Apart from banking services, we are also adding other services like payment of LIC premiums, Rail ticket booking, and services related to passport, UIDAI enrolment and others.

 

In Rajasthan, our CSCs are doing very good business. Our strategy is to aggregate more and more G2C , B2C and banking services into CSC network. We have recently received the RBI mandate of deploying at least 15000 White Label ATMs. White Label ATM means an automatedteller machine that does not linked to a single bank.These ATMs will provide services for large number of banks. We see lot of potential in this areaAlong with the rural Banking business. First of all, we must have a serious intent for delivering results. Lot of challenges need to be addressed. At times companies face challenges as certain companies are unable to imbibe the spirit of the project. They just intend to finish the work as soon as possible so that their job gets over soon without bothering about the intended outcome for citizens benefits. They fail to understand that every project is also about transforming the model of service delivery. Yes, we do have challenges when some of the SLAs are very impractical to meet, but we always try to satisfy our clients. But our focus is always on delivering good results on the ground. The satisfaction of clients is our first objective. We say what we believe and we deliver what we say! The Indian market is really huge. There is no dearth of market opportunity. Size and scalability,which is available in India, is nowhere else. However we are always on the lookout for lucrative business opportunities abroad.Recently we have completed Land Records digitisation project in Philippines.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 05/11/2013

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Online Mechanism for Single Window Clearance to Be Set Up Soon

 

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will be working on a roadmap to ensure that the technological parameters for creating the platform for the single window clearance for shooting of films in India. This was stated by Secretary (I&B), Uday Kumar Varma at the India Pavilion at the Cannes International Film Festival. Elaborating further, Varma said that the online mechanism would be worked out on priority so as to ensure early clearance of proposals for shooting of films in India. Regarding the timelines, Secretary (I&B) said that it was possible to establish the process within three months. Regarding the details of the process, Secretary mentioned that the overall time-frame for total clearances would be between 6-8 weeks from the time of the application. He specifically mentioned that the processes involved would take the given time in view of parameters involved for providing the clearances. As far as the Ministry of I&B was concerned, Varma mentioned that the approvals of the script would be undertaken by the Ministry as done in the past.

 

Responding to queries at the meeting of the French Film Commission, Secretary, I&B provided an overview of the policy initiatives undertaken by the ministry in the domain of films. He highlighted the measures undertaken to promote the co production initiatives with different countries and the pro active efforts taken to mainstream the single window clearance process with both the Central Government agencies and the State Governments. In a related development, the Vice President of Cairo International Film festival, Soheir Abd El Kader, called upon Secretary, I&B to discuss India’s participation as a partner country in the forthcoming edition of Cairo International Film Festival in November, 2013. Kader requested that India send a special package of Indian films for the upcoming festival. She also requested that delegation of acclaimed film makers and members of the cast of films in the special package be sent to the festival. Kader added that they were hoping for greater participation by Indian film makers in the Egyptian market. She assured that Cairo film festival would facilitate an interaction between the Indian film makers and their Egyptian counterparts during the festival.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 05/21/2013

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PAKISTAN: IT Ministry to Acquire Google Services

 

KARACHI: Ministry of Information Technology Sindh is to sign memorandum of understanding with Google Pakistan to acquire Google applications and to improve IT skills of the Sindh government employees’ skills and efficiency. In a meeting with Sindh Minister for I.T. Mian Zahid Hussain, the Country Consultant Google Pakistan, Badar Khushnood on Saturday has given a presentation of Google’s services to the minister and Secretary IT Muhammad Yousuf. Additional Secretary, Ali Nawaz Chachar and other senior officers of the ministry were also present on the occasion. Badar in his presentation demonstrated a number of Google facilities and advised the ministry to acquire Google’s various facilities and services for improvement of Sindh government’s efficiency and put the Sindh government to the track of high technology and automation. He said that Google’s educational services are free for everyone while nominal fee is charged for exclusive and customized services.

 

The Minister on this occasion asked the Google’s country chief to provide Google apps free of charge for three years to the Sindh government’s employees while the rest of the services on highly discounted rates, says a release here Monday. Badar assured the minister to send the request to the headquarters and hopefully will get the positive response. Ministry of IT has shown interest in acquiring Google services in Google drive, Google Apps, Google Cloud (Virtual services through mobile phones) and Gmail. Badar said that Google is doing a lot for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and has given $1 million for the flood victims and setting up a PASHA Fund. Regarding blocking of YouTube he said that all the anti-Islam content could only be banned by the YouTube when the YouTube Pakistan would be launched, for which he said government of Pakistan would have to formulate laws. The Minister has shown keen interest in acquiring the Google services for the improvement of Sindh government’s functionaries and appreciated the gesture of Google Pakistan.

From http://www.brecorder.com 04/15/2013

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AZERBAIJAN: Developing New E-Government Program

 

Azerbaijan's Communications and Information Technologies Ministry is developing a draft state program on the development of e-government for 2013-2015. The draft program will be presumably submitted to the Presidential Administration by the end of April, the ministry said. The new program is continuation of the state program on developing the ICT sector in Azerbaijan in 2010-2012. The program is aimed to create the e-government, develop the methods of management by means of implementing modern information and communication technologies in state bodies, providing e-services, as well as taking comprehensive measures to provide simplified and free access of citizens and organizations to such services. The e-government project, which mostly covers the government sector, is an integral part of the broad "electronic Azerbaijan" idea. The establishment and development of the e-government in Azerbaijan will encourage fruitful work of the state bodies, guarantee its transparency and reduce bureaucracy. The goal of the e-government is to reduce poverty, provide suitable conditions for the population's prosperity and address the issues reflected in the state program on poverty reduction and sustainable development in 2008-2015. 2013 was declared the Year of ICT in Azerbaijan and the ICT University was established under a presidential order on February 2. President Ilham Aliyev also approved the regulations on the State Fund for IT Development and the Action Plan on the Year of ICT in Azerbaijan. According to the action plan, it is planned to develop an ICT strategy, improve the registration procedure of the national domain .az, and significantly reduce fees for telecommunication services and internet access.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 04/17/2013

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Azerbaijan’s Communication Ministry Signs Grant Agreement in E-Government Project

 

On Thursday the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan signed a grant agreement worth $3.7 million with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea on the creation of training centres under the e-government project in Azerbaijan. The project includes the creation of 15 training centres in the regions. These will be established in Ganja, Nakhchivan, Sumgait, Mingachevir, Barda, Lankaran, Gazakh, Zagatala, Imishli, Gabala, Goychay, Shirvan, Shamakhi, Guba and Sheki. They will be equipped by South Korean experts. Training will be conducted for civil servants. Long distance education is also planned to be launched. The E-government project is a part of a larger Electronic Azerbaijan project. The establishment and development of electronic government in Azerbaijan will lead to the enhancement of fruitful activities of public bodies and ensure their transparency and reduce bureaucracy. Creation of electronic government is aimed at reducing poverty in the country, creating appropriate conditions for the well-being of all citizens and implementation of the State Programme on Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development in Azerbaijan in 2008-2015.

From http://en.trend.az/ 04/18/2013

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Taxes Ministry to Simplify Submission of E-Declarations

 

Azerbaijan plans to simplify the procedures of submitting electronic declarations and invoices in Azerbaijan until 2016 under the State program of development of "e-government" for 2013-2015, the Taxes Ministry reported on Thursday. Azerbaijan's Communications and Information Technologies Ministry is developing a draft state program on the development of e-government for 2013-2015, which is a continuation of the state program on developing the ICT sector in Azerbaijan in 2010-2012. Among other priorities for the Ministry within the program are the increase of transparency of tax control and inspections, provision of taxpayers with all necessary information as well as education activities. It is also planned to implement additional acitivities to harmonize the activity of tax authorities in accordance with international standards, to accelerate work on the transition to electronic payments as well as strengthening information security. The state program, which mostly covers the government sector, and is an integral part of the broad "electronic Azerbaijan" idea, is aimed to create the e-government, develop the methods of management by means of implementing modern information and communication technologies in state bodies, providing e-services, as well as taking comprehensive measures to provide simplified and free access of citizens and organizations to such services. The establishment and development of the e-government in Azerbaijan will encourage fruitful work of the state bodies, guarantee its transparency and reduce bureaucracy. 2013 was declared the Year of ICT in Azerbaijan and the ICT University was established under a presidential order on February 2.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 04/26/2013

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Azerbaijan Shifting from Electronic to Mobile Government

 

Azerbaijan is launching the transition from the electronic to a mobile government and has set up a new center to accomplish this goal. "In order to prevent current and future challenges in the implementation of e-services, a center for electronic signature certification closely integrated with the automated tax information system has been established under the Ministry of Taxes," Minister of Taxes Fazil Mammadov said on Thursday at a conference titled "ASAN-signature as a key to mobile government". The center was established in accordance with European standards, which will allow mutual recognition of electronic signatures in Azerbaijan and Europe. This, according to the minister, will allow the citizens of Azerbaijan to set up joint ventures with citizens of other countries and sign contracts over the Internet. "As the [new] center is integrated with the mobile signature center, access to e-signatures will be possible through any device. This, in turn, will give an impetus to the development of the Internet and mobile banking in the country and the expansion of non-cash payments," Minister Mammadov said.

 

According to him, the launch of the center and its integration with the mobile signature center should be regarded as a transition from the e-government to a mobile government. "Continued development of information technologies and mobile services in Azerbaijan increases the demand for the use of e-services among the population as well as the need to use an e-signature," the minister said. According to Mammadov, the Ministry of Taxes plans to increase the number of e-services and expand the use of e-signatures as well as the provision of services using mobile devices. The conference is organized by the Ministry of Taxes, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies and ASAN-Xidmet of the State Agency for Public Services and Social Innovations under the President of Azerbaijan. Head of the legal affairs department of the Ministry of Taxes Samira Musayeva said that the Ministry jointly with ASAN-Xidmet has announced the launch of services of mobile digital signature. According to her, people can obtain mobile digital signatures by applying to the ASAN-Xidmet centers and the Ministry of Taxes.

 

"The new platform of the mobile signature center is integrated with the platforms of all three mobile operators of Azerbaijan. To use the mobile digital signature it is necessary to change the Sim-card. The installation of the application and the activation of the mobile digital signature will be carried out both in the center for electronic signature certification under the Ministry of Taxes and ASAN-Xidmet centers," Musayeva said. The mobile digital signature "ASAN-imza" ("ASAN-signature"), she says, fully complies with European Union guidelines, which will facilitate its recognition by European countries. The presentation of the new center took place in Baku on Thursday. Specialists from the Ministry of Taxes demonstrated the work of the software required for operations with the use of the digital signature. In the future, it is planned to install this application in new identity cards, whose issuance is scheduled for 2014. According to Musayeva, the mobile digital signature will be used on personal, portable computers and tablet PCs as well.

 

The subscriber's mobile number will be applied for the use of mobile digital signatures on mobile and personal computers. In this case, two versions of Pin-codes will be required. The first one is needed for the confirmation of authentication and the second one for signing of the document. After the conclusion of the operation, a notification confirming that the operation had been completed will be received by the subscriber's mobile number. The State Agency for Public Services and Social Innovations and ASAN Service Center No.1 were opened by President Ilham Aliyev on December 29. The agency and the service were created in accordance with the presidential decrees issued on July 13 and September 5. The state agency was established to increase transparency in state bodies' activity, render more high quality, convenient services to citizens by using new methods and innovations, improve services and accelerate the transition to electronic services. ASAN Service Center No.1 covers three districts of the capital Baku -- Nasimi, Narimanov, and Binagadi, and is located on Heydar Aliyev St. 36. The first ASAN service center renders access to 23 services that are provided by nine state entities without extra expenses and loss of time. The center is open from 10:00 AM until 20:00 PM and until 17:00 PM on Sundays. ASAN Service Center No.2 and No.3 will open in May in Khatai district and in July in Yasamal district. A regional ASAN center will also open in Ganja, Azerbaijan's second largest city. More than 35,000 people applied to ASAN in the first quarter of 2013.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 05/02/2013

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Azerbaijan Hosts Int'l Conference on E-Government in Customs Sector

 

Gabala hosted the fifth anniversary International Scientific Conference on "E-government: innovations in customs" on Monday. Some 102 representatives from 55 countries attended it. The conference was held to discuss the global practice in developing and using the e-government, modern forms of cooperation between public organizations in the field of e-governance, using the information and communication technologies in the field of customs and other areas of the economy, as well as examining the current situation on innovative methods of governance and exchanging the experience in this area. The conference participants visited the monument to national leader Heydar Aliyev erected in the center of Gabala. Chairman of the State Customs Committee, lieutenant-general of the customs service Aydin Aliyev, Deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technologies Elmir Velizade, UN Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan, Resident Representative of the UN Development Program Antonius Broek and head of the European Regional Office for Capacity Building of the World Customs Organization Vitali Mikeladze attended the opening ceremony. Chairman of the State Customs Committee Aliyev informed the participants about the improvement of the information system in customs bodies and new projects in this area. Azerbaijani Deputy Communication and IT Minister Velizade recalled that 2013 was declared the Year of ICT in Azerbaijan. He stressed the importance of holding such events in the country.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 05/06/2013

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AUSTRALIA: Government Flags Further IT Cuts

 

The Australian government has said that it will look for more efficiencies in IT before cutting public service jobs. Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said on Tuesday that while the public service was contracting by 3,300 positions in the last budget, the government wasn't intending to bring in razor gangs to slash the public sector workforce. "The Gillard government understands the importance of efficiently and cost-effectively delivering services to the Australian community, and that this requires maintaining a well-resourced, highly skilled public service capable of meeting complex demands and challenges," he said. "We don't believe in the wholesale slashing of public sector jobs like we've seen in Queensland, which rob the community of vital services, and which Tony Abbott would do if elected." Dreyfus highlighted that since 2007, the government had made AU$13 billion in savings from the public sector, including AU$2 billion in IT savings, and more is planned. "The Gillard government is focused on finding government efficiencies in ... IT, hospitality, recruitment, not by slashing jobs, which directly impact on the community and the important services they rely on," he said.

 

The savings in IT came as a result of the Gershon Report, delivered by then Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner. The report was conducted by Sir Peter Gershon and released in 2008, setting off a massive overhaul of the use of government IT. The report estimated a saving of AU$1.5 billion over five years. Half of this money was originally supposed to go back to the agencies, but prior to the 2010 federal election, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that AU$447.5 million of the saved amount would not be quarantined for IT projects, and agencies would instead have to bid for IT funding. The total number of people employed in the Federal government public sector is estimated to be at 258,000 in this financial year, according to the last federal budget. When Labor came into power in 2007, staffing levels stood at an estimated 243,000. Should Opposition Leader Tony Abbott win the September federal election, it is widely expected that the Coalition would make cuts to the public service. No policy has been announced yet, however, in the party's "Real Solutions" document, it promises to deliver "a more effective and responsive public service".

From http://www.zdnet.com 04/02/2013

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AEC Seeks E-Voting System

 

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has gone to tender for an electronic voting system to be used for commercial elections, but not for political elections. The request for tender, issued late last week, states that the AEC is facing growing demand from its commercial clients to have online ballots. The AEC said this was especially strong when it came to voting for enterprise agreements. "For the AEC to remain competitive with other election service providers, new methods of voting, such as electronic voting, need to be implemented to meet the changing client expectations," the AEC said in its statement of requirements. The system will need to be able to manage yes/no ballots in multiple formats with up to 100 questions, allow secure and anonymous online votes, allow users to log in to vote with an approved identifier, generate emails to voters, be able to compare postal and electronic votes to prevent duplicate votes, prevent the ability to cast an informal vote, count the votes, archive votes and logins, and keep a backup.

 

The system must be compatible with the AEC's internal systems, and must work on Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. The sytem will use the AEC's infrastructure, and the security standards must comply with Defence Signals Directorate requirements. The commission has said that the system will need to be in place by the end of 2013. The AEC specifically stated that the system will not include functionality for parliamentary elections, elections to office, or polling place electronic voting machines. There have been a number of trials of electronic voting for parliamentary elections, notably in the 2007 federal election and the 2011 New South Wales state election, and the ACT has used electronic voting extensively for its elections. Following the 2007 federal election, where electronic voting was tested with both the Australian Defence Force and for a number of vision-impaired voters, the AEC found that the trials were a success, but the combined cost of both trials was AU$4 million, with a per-voter cost of AU$2,597, compared to the AU$8.36 cost per voter in the 2007 election, generally.

 

Due to the high cost, a parliamentary committee looking into electronic voting, recommended that trials should not be continued for future federal elections, but according to a Parliamentary Library background note published in October last year (PDF), the AEC is still looking at developing assisted telephone voting methods for blind and low-vision voters.

From http://www.zdnet.com 04/04/2013

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Australian Budget 2013: IT System Tweaks, Expansions, and New Centres

 

The federal Budget handed down on Tuesday contained a number of key investments in IT systems across several portfolios, including the departments of defence, innovation, attorney-general, and finance. The Labor federal government had hoped to deliver a slim surplus this financial year ahead of the election in September, but due to a tax revenue writedown of AU$17 billion in the 2012-13 financial year, the government abandoned its surplus goal. It will instead report a deficit of AU$18 billion in 2013-14. Treasurer Wayne Swan said in his speech delivered in parliament on Tuesday evening that although there would be AU$43 billion in savings over the forward estimates, the government does not want to head down the path of austerity. "To those who would take us down the European road of savage austerity, I say the social destruction that comes from cutting too much, too hard, too fast is not the Australian way," he said. The savings will be achieved, among other methods, by closing loopholes to ensure that multinationals are not being given an unfair advantage, Swan said.

 

While the Budget belt has been tightened, and IT investments were smaller than in previous years, a number of agencies were able to get their investments through. The government's Telepresence scheme will be expanded, with AU$19.3 million provided over the next five years. The program, which has widely been viewed as a great success within the government in reducing travel costs through the use of Cisco video conferencing equipment, will be significantly increased to allow more meetings to be held across more locations. The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) will receive AU$16.1 million over the next four years to build a new datacentre. The datacentre will be home to all of AUSTRAC's IT systems and records, but the existing datacentre will be maintained for testing and development, and will be used as a disaster recovery facility. The Australian Research Council will get AU$14.2 million over the next four years to replace its IT system that will look to automate more functions, integrate several systems, and have a new electronic document records management system. "The new ICT system will deliver to the research sector a modern and efficient application process, supporting the full lifecycle of grant applications, management, and reporting," the Budget document stated.

 

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC's) iview — its TV online replay service — is set to get better, with the broadcaster getting AU$30 million over three years to improve online services. This will include a pilot of live-streamed ABC radio and TV content, and an increase in the quality of iview streaming. The quality of the iview stream has been criticised in the past, as the content is currently only able to be streamed in standard definition. The ABC was one of the big winners in the Budget, scoring AU$89.4 million over three years. As part of a push against organised crime and gang violence, there will be AU$9.1 million invested over four years for a new Australian Ballistics Identification Network for ballistics analysis of firearms. CrimTrac will set up a network to allow police across Australia to access a database of collected ballistics information from weapons used in crime. As part of an AU$30.2 million investment in a new National Border Targeting Centre to oversee incoming passengers and cargo into Australia, funding will be provided to upgrade IT equipment to analyse data that will be shared amongst border protection agencies. To get businesses using AUSkey, the secure credential for accessing online services of the Australian Business Register, and to improve the upfront checks in issuing Australian Business Numbers, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Department of Finance will be given AU$80.2 million in funding over the forward estimates.

 

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will get AU$7.8 million for the establishment of the online National Business Names registration system. The Department of Defence has outlined that through re-profiling of funding, it will be able to invest AU$91 million in additional funding for IT. It isn't all spending for IT, however. The shift to online tendering, the use of whole-of-government panels, and multi-use lists are expected to reduce the cost of supplying services to the government. It has been estimated that there will be AU$68.4 million in savings over four years through these improvements. The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) will have slightly less expenses in the 2013-14 financial year, going from AU$28.3 million down to AU$26.6 million. The government funded the Digital Education Revolution program in the last financial year with AU$200 million, and has now supplied over 967,000 computers to year 9 to year 12 students across Australia. The agreement with the states over the funding of this program ends on June 30, 2013, and no new agreement has yet been signed. AU$4 million has been set aside in this year's Budget to fund Digital Education Revolution-related projects.

From http://www.zdnet.com 05/14/2013

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NEW ZEALAND: Kiwis Choose Online Option for Census 2013

 

New Zealanders have taken on board official encouragement to fill out their Census returns online today, with one million forms completed soon after 1pm. Census staff say their online computer system - which can be found here - is handling the high traffic volume well and don't expect any major problems ahead of the peak period tonight between 7pm and 10pm as the country records its statistical snapshot of its people in 2013. Last held in 2006 and conducted every five years since 1851, the Census has been delayed only three times - due to the Depression in 1931, World War II in 1941 and the deadly Christchurch earthquake in 2011. This year's survey is estimated to cost $72 million, slightly less than the $90 million budget for the 2011 Census because much of the preparation is already done. About 7000 temporary staff will spend around 550,000 hours handing out and collecting 6.4 million Census forms - 1.8 million dwelling forms and 4.6 million individual forms for a population estimated at 4.46 million plus visitors, who must also fill in the forms.

 

Census spokeswoman Vikki Carter says the day has gone like clockwork so far, going over the milestone one million mark just after 1pm. Area managers are reporting positive feedback from members of the public as they deliver forms to cruise ships, hospitals and airports. But with five million forms still to go, the online system could still get bogged down. "We're expecting around two million to be done online. The system will be completely fine for up to 200,000 forms per hour and if it gets busier than that it will slow slightly, but still should be fine," Ms Carter said. Filling in the form should take a single person around 5-10 minutes, she said. For a family with children, the time will vary depending on the age of the children. If it's done online, once the age is entered, questions that don't apply will be greyed out and can be "really super quick".General Manager 2013 Census Carol Slappendel says the process is the largest one-off activity being held in New Zealand this year. She reminded people that being in New Zealand on Census night means they are required by law to fill in a census form. "There are no exceptions," she said. "From the tip of the North Island, to Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands, people will be filling in their census forms online or on paper, in English or Maori. Even people working at Scott Base in Antarctica, considered New Zealand soil, are counted during the census. "The census is all about numbers. How many of us are there? How many of different ages? How many in different types of jobs and so on." Collection starts tomorrow, and will take at least a fortnight.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 03/05/2013

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New Zealand Fast-Tracks Citizen Engagement Reforms

 

New Zealand’s Minister for Internal Affairs Chris Tremain is fast-tracking the government’s digital engagement strategy under a new initiative that brings together core agencies at the front-line of public services. These agencies are banding together under the auspices of a recently-established “Digital Service Council.” Minister Tremain, also a keynote speaker at the Annual FutureGov Forum New Zealand being held Tuesday 28th May in Wellington, says this new project enables New Zealanders to interact more readily with government in an on-line environment. “The aim of the funding is to increase the efficiencies of agencies working together to allow more New Zealanders to interact with the Government online,” he says. “Our target is for 70 per cent of New Zealanders’ most common transactions with government to occur online by 2017.”

 

New Zealand’s peak agency, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is managing this programme, in partnership with the Digital Service Council. Council membership and contributions from lead agencies encompass the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Department of Conservation, New Zealand Customs Service, Inland Revenue, New Zealand Police, Ministry of Social Development, New Zealand Transport Agency, and the DIA. These agencies are pooling NZ$2.9 million to fund the project – while sharing innovative ideas and common goals to engage with citizens. The government’s commitment to citizen engagement also comes under the spotlight at the Annual FutureGov Forum New Zealand. A dedicated panel discussion, “Gov 3.0; Engaging Citizens” weighs the benefits and challenges of connecting with citizens in an on-line environment. This panel features speakers from New Zealand’s DIA, as well as the Office of Economic Development Board (South Australia), Land Information New Zealand, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, and the Department of Local Government (Western Australia).

From http://www.futuregov.asia 05/16/2013

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World Spent $3.6 TREEELLION on ICT in 2012 - Analyst

 

International Data Corporation (IDC) said that the figure included what businesses had spent on telecoms services and that total expenditure on hardware, software and IT services alone had topped $2 trillion on its own. The latter figure represented a 5.9 per cent increase from the total IT expenditure in 2011 and was recorded despite tough economic conditions, in Europe and Asia especially, it said. IDC said, though, that some areas of the market had seen reductions in expenditure from the previous year, with sales of PCs down 2 per cent increase on the 2011 figure. Further spending declines were witnessed in the market for services, PC monitors and "feature phones", it said. The analysts said that spending on smartphones and tablets continued to grow and that, for the first time smartphone sales – which were almost $300bn – exceeded those for PCs. "Cannibalisation is happening across the industry," Stephen Minton, vice president of IDC’s global technology and industry research body, said in a statement. "Smartphones have taken over from feature phones, tablet adoption is impacting PC spending, and the Cloud is affecting the traditional software, services and infrastructure markets. IT spending is still growing organically, but not at the same pace as prior to the financial crisis."

 

"Businesses are adopting IT solutions such as virtualisation, automation and SaaS as a means to reduce the annual increases in their overall IT spending at a time when economic uncertainty remains high," he added. IDC said that it expects that IT expenditure will grow by 2 per cent increase in Europe this year, with that growth figure amounting to less than 1 per cent increase when the sales of mobile device are not included. The US will see a 5.5 per cent increase increase in IT spending in 2013, but there will be no growth in the Japanese market, it said. "This will be another tough year for mature economies," Minton said. "Weakness in Europe, as governments continue to impose austerity measures with a direct and indirect impact on IT spending, has also damaged the export-dependent Japanese economy. The US should perform better, as long as politicians continue to reach 11th-hour deals to avert an economic crisis, and the PC market in the US will at least stabilise after two successive years of major declines." IDC added that it expects to see "improving IT spending trends" in Brazil, Russia, India and China.

From http://www.theregister.co.uk/ 03/05/2013

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IT Outsourcing Market Slumps to 10-year Low

 

Last year was the worst for the IT services contract market since 2002, according to research from analyst Ovum. Last year was the worst for the IT services contract market since 2002, according to research from analyst Ovum. Activity in the last three months of the year, said Ovum, fell well below the levels seen in the same period of 2011, ensuring that annual IT services contract activity fell to its lowest level for 10 years, both in terms of total contract value and deal volumes. Ovum said total contract values in the fourth quarter of 2012 added up to $20.8 billion (13.75 billion), down 34 percent on the same period of the previous year. The number of deals fell 17 percent in the same period and there was a notable lack of "megadeals" (contracts valued at $1 billion or more). While the level of activity in the fourth quarter represented a slight improvement on the previous three months of the year - with total contract value (TCV) up 10 percent from the third quarter of 2012 - annual TCV was down on the previous 12 months across both the public and private sector, with the private sector enduring its worst year since 1998 in TCV terms. "The ongoing economic uncertainty afflicting key markets for IT services such as the US and Europe was a major factor behind the weak performance of the industry in 2012," said Ovum analyst Ed Thomas.

 

Thomas added: "Our research suggests that many enterprises remain wary of committing to major projects, with issues such as the Eurozone crisis having a particularly significant impact. In addition, public sector activity has reduced as many governments come under pressure to cut public spending in the face of high debt levels, leading to a general reluctance to get involved in large-scale IT services deals." The sharpest fall in activity came in the services sector, where the number of deals announced fell by 50 percent. In healthcare and financial services contract volumes were down 39 percent and 18 percent respectively. The only industries in which contract activity was up on the previous year were telecommunications and technology. Regionally, Europe was the leading market for private sector contract activity in 2012, with 45 percent of annual TCV. However, TCV generated by European enterprises actually declined sharply during the year, falling 31 percent to $16.7 billion (11 billion). Private sector TCV in North America, having slumped dramatically in 2011, rebounded in 2012, finishing the year up 48 percent at $10.5 billion (6.9 billion).

From http://news.idg.no/ 03/19/2013

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Asia Pacific Telecom Transiting from Voice to Mobile Internet-Access Services

 

Asia Pacific Telecom, the only CDMA 2000 mobile telecom carrier in Taiwan, has been focusing on the transition from voice communications to data communications since it launched 1x EV-DO services in October 2012, according to the company. Mainly because of the transition, Asia Pacific saw January-February revenues drop 17-18% on year, the company noted. Asia Pacific said it aims to increase its number of subscribers from 2.8 million currently to three million by the end of 2013, with mobile Internet-access subscribers from 400,000 to 800,000. Asia Pacific plans to procure 0.8-1.0 million handsets for contract-bundled sale in 2013, 60-70% of which will be smartphones, the company indicated. Asia Pacific said it will file an application for listing on the Taiwan Stock Exchange at the end of March.

From http://www.digitimes.com/ 03/20/2013

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APEC-Wide Deal on E-Commerce Tax Avoidance Proposed

 

A new kind of international pact to ensure taxes and customs duties are collected on goods bought online is proposed in new research by Victoria University's New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation. Commissioned by Booksellers New Zealand, which has been battling falling local sales of books because of the onslaught of imported books which are ordered online and escape the 15 per cent rate of goods and services tax, the paper suggests the APEC trade grouping is a logical place to start working for such an agreement. The paper is attracting political and official interest because of the growing threat to the tax base caused by the global growth of online retailing. While it was "conceptually attractive" to get credit companies and banks to collect taxes and duties on goods crossing borders, it would be costly and impractical, the ISCR paper says. "We believe the most promising long-term solution is the establishment of a multi-lateral agreement through APEC or other international organisations designed to encourage, rather than force, online firms to collect and remit sales taxes to the respective nations."

 

The proposal got its first public airing at a seminar in Wellington yesterday. "We believe the establishment of such a system is feasible, given the worldwide nature of the problem," says ISCR, although it says the World Trade Organisation would be too large a body to try for such a deal, because of the difficulty of agreement from a very large number of nations. APEC is a 21-member association of Pacific Rim economies, including the US, Japan, China and Australia. While the institute concedes that leaves Europe and the UK out of the arrangement, it may be possible to involve the European Union as a bolt-on to such an initiative. The alternative is to let retailers suffer the inequity, in New Zealand, of overseas, online suppliers maintaining a 15 per cent price advantage over domestic retailers. The report cites research showing New Zealanders bought about $3.2 billion online last year, with growth of 14.3 per cent and an annual total of perhaps $5.4 billion by 2016. However, it also concedes the proposal would not capture sales of non-physical products and services online, such e-books, downloaded music, or software downloads from offshore. That would have to be a second leg of such a multi-lateral push, ISCR suggests.

 

However, it says it's time for governments to act, since "consumers are increasingly purchasing goods offshore for the primary reason of avoiding GST." If that loophole were removed, according to research cited by ISCR, there could be a drop in offshore, online sales of between 45 per cent and 60 per cent, offset by an estimated sales increase of 27 per cent for local, online retailers, who would automatically be accounting for GST. "Not only would government revenue rise, but domestic retailers would be revitalised, resulting in increased employment and higher company and higher PAYE tax revenues," the report says. Such a multi-lateral approach would also see a significant streamlining in border control procedures, freeing up postal and customs agents from working out whether duty is payable on imported goods to detecting illegal or unwanted imports. The study suggests global online retailers would join the scheme because they would benefit from faster, lower cost deliveries. "The most promising method for attracting voluntary compliance is fast-tracked processing of goods coming through the border." However, there would need to be checks on retailers fraudulently charging customers for GST and not paying it. "We do not have an easy solution." The paper is also critical of current customs and GST thresholds, which are difficult to apply in practice. At present, goods attracting duties and tax of less than $60 are exempt from paying such taxes. However, because some goods have duties and others are duty-free, this means the threshold can range from $226 and $399. "We strongly recommend changing to a minimum value threshold," ISCR says.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 03/21/2013

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Asia Pacific IT Spending to Reach US$740bil

 

KUALA LUMPUR: IT spending in Asia Pacific is expected to reach US$740bil in 2013, an 8.2% increase over 2012 spending of $684bil, according to the latest forecast by Gartner, Inc. “Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.8 trillion in 2013, a 4.1 percent increase from 2012 spending of $3.6 trillion,” said Gartner in a statement on Friday. "Although the United States did avoid the fiscal cliff, the subsequent sequestration, compounded by the rise of Cyprus' debt burden, seems to have netted out any benefit, and the fragile business and consumer sentiment throughout much of the world continues," said Gartner managing vice president Richard Gordon. The Gartner Worldwide IT Spending Forecast is the leading indicator of major technology trends across the hardware, software, IT services and telecom markets. Despite flat spending on PCs and a modest decline in spending on printers, it said a short-term boost to spending on premium mobile phones has driven an upward revision in the devices sector growth for 2013 from Gartner's previous forecast of 6.3%.

From http://biz.thestar.com.my/ 03/29/2013

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Asia Pacific Leads Worldwide Mobile Phone Sales Growth in 1Q13, Says Gartner

 

Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users totaled nearly 426 million units in the first quarter of 2013, a slight increase of 0.7% from the same period in 2012, according to Gartner. Worldwide smartphone sales totaled 210 million units in the first quarter of 2013, up 42.9% from the first quarter of 2012. The Asia Pacific region was the only region to show growth in mobile phone sales for the quarter, with a 6.4% increase on year. "More than 226 million mobile phones were sold to end users in Asia Pacific in the first quarter of 2013, which helped the region increase its share of global mobile phones to 53.1%," said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. "In addition, China saw its mobile phone sales increase 7.5% in the first quarter of 2013, and its sales represented 25.7% of global mobile phone sales, up nearly 2pp on year. "China-based and local manufacturers have been exemplary at addressing demands of buyers by offering affordable devices with optimum features such as 2.5G (EDGE) instead of 3G in a smartphone. In the smartphone market, local and China-based manufacturers are making faster inroads as they account for 29% in the first quarter of 2013, up from 13.2% a year ago." In the first quarter of 2013, sales of mobile phones in the EMEA region declined 3.6%. The North America and Latin America's mobile phone market fell 9.5% and 3.8%, respectively, while Japan saw its mobile phone sales drop 7.3%.

 

Samsung remained in the No. 1 position, growing 13% in the first quarter of 2013. Its share of smartphones reached 30.8%, up 3.2pp from the first quarter of 2012. "We expect the new Galaxy S4 to be very popular despite being more of an evolution than a truly revolutionary device compared to the S3," said Gupta. Nokia's mobile phone share dropped 4.9pp in the first quarter of 2013 mainly due to a steep decline in feature phone sales. Although Nokia's Windows Phone sales have sequentially improved reaching a volume of 5.1 million units, Nokia is yet to see high growth in the smartphone segment. Nokia's position in the smartphone market dropped to No. 10 in the first quarter of 2013, from No. 8 in the fourth quarter of 2012. Apple's sales to end users reached 38.3 million units in the first quarter of 2013 as Apple was able to burn some of the inventory built at the end of 2012, as iPhone 5 was rolling out in more markets, and as the company prepared for Lunar New Year. China is a key contributor to overall sales for Apple, and Gartner analysts saw evidence of this in the first quarter of 2013, when sales reached close to seven million units in China alone thanks to the lower price of the iPhone 4. "Apple is faced with the challenge of being increasingly dependent on the replacement market as its addressable market is capped. The next two quarters will also be challenging, as there are no new products are expected to be coming before the third quarter of 2013," said Gupta. LG electronics moved in front of ZTE in the first quarter of 2013 for the No. 4 position. ZTE had a weak performance, failing to grow its smartphone sales, selling 7.9 million smartphones in the first quarter of 2013, a 5.1% decline from the fourth quarter of 2012.

 

In the first quarter of 2013, smartphones accounted for 49.3% of sales of mobile phones worldwide. This is up from 34.8% in the first quarter of 2012, and 44% in the fourth quarter of 2012. On the other hand, sales of feature phones contracted 21.8% in the first quarter of 2013. "Feature phones users across the world are either finding their existing phones good enough or are waiting for smartphones prices to drop further, either way the prospect of longer replacement cycles is certainly not a good news for both vendors and carriers looking to move users forward," said Gupta

 

Gartner: Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users by vendor, 1Q13 (k units)

Company

1Q13 units

1Q13 market share(%)

1Q12 units

1Q12 market share(%)

Samsung

100,657.7

23.6

89,284.6

21.1

Nokia

63,215.2

14.8

83,162.5

19.7

Apple