ECONOMY

Digital Map considered

Public consultation for the country’s Digital Map for the 2006-2013 period is gathering steam, with government officials holding meetings across Greece with regional and local authorities and professional associations. The blueprint, which will be considered by the Inner Cabinet at the end of the year, was distributed for consultation in mid-July and the deadline for proposals is set for the end of October. Authorities attribute the rather poor participation in the public consultation so far to the summer holidays. But since they want to secure more feedback, they will follow a «door-to-door» policy in an attempt to mobilize the public and the private sector. It has already been announced that two one-day events will be held in Athens and Thessaloniki. The Information Society Monitor is expected to be involved to entwine the consultation with the preparation for the EU-subsidized Fourth Community Support Framework (CSFIV) investment program. The Monitor may operate in support of regional authorities which have submitted general proposals for inclusion in CSFIV. It can assist in the specification of proposals or projects, as well as bring into contact the regional authorities which have advanced to interesting technological solutions with those remaining behind. In the context of the consultation, public and private bodies and individuals are invited to submit their views for the original draft, based on eight questions. The main components of the new Digital Map are six. To make sure they are realized, they must be linked through broadband Internet connections. The focus is placed on the development of skills and further education of human resources through the new technologies. Goals The strategy, as laid out in the blueprint, has two basic aims – improving productivity and the quality of life – which will be pursued through the following means: – Tapping the potential of information technology and telecommunications by enterprises. – Using IT broadly in the public sector in order to improve procedures with consideration for transparency and facilitating the operations of enterprises. – Contributing to entrepreneurship, particularly in technology-intensive sectors, with a view to promoting employment in the dynamic sectors of the economy. – Supporting new technologies to increase their contribution to economic development. – Better utilization of new technologies and telecommunications by citizens by providing practical solutions in everyday life. – Developing electronic services for citizens which save time, offer new possibilities for dealing with red tape and augment their options. The blueprint for the Digital Map proposes more than 65 initiatives, many of which can be implemented until 2008 (under the remaining CSFIII credits). For instance, there is a proposal for the creation of a large Internet portal for tourism (for use by both the public and enterprises). The Greek National Tourism Organization has already issued a tender for the project. By 2008, public administration will be in the position to provide five of the most widely required documents and services by enterprises in electronic form. It is also planned that the 20 most frequently required documents by citizens (from university entry applications to transactions with tax and customs offices) will be available in electronic form in the coming months. The blueprint envisages the installation of a wireless broadband network at at least 200 points around the country (municipalities, public libraries and squares). It also includes the creation of a single portal for all public administrative services that would save citizens the trouble of logging on to the individual website of every ministry or organization. Two of the most crucial points concern, respectively, the further education of citizens in the regions, with a view to their acquaintance with the benefits of new technologies, and changing the existing bureaucratic and ineffective institutional framework for the promotion of IT projects in the public sector. The plan provides for a big communication campaign and mobile centers showing the range of electronic services that will be available to the public.