April 2006


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Online agri-market for Andhra Pradesh
The Government of  Andhra Pradesh, India is going to introduce online screen-based spot trading platform for buying and selling of farm produce in all the 305 Agri-cultural Market Committees in the State.

 The proposal was mooted by the National Spot Exchange for Agricultural Produce (NSEAP). The NSEAP is hoping to solve all problems faced by the farmers by creating a user group of APMC commission agents, farmers, banks, agriculture universities, fertiliser companies, seed manufacturers and Government procurements agencies. http://www.hindu.com

Online network to boost biotechnology research in agriculture
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation will launch an online network this month to boost biotechnology research and policy development in Africa.

Accordingly Agricultural Biotechnology Network for Africa (ABNET) will be formed to enhance interactions among the African biotechnology community so that they can use new tools to overcome problems facing poor farmers across the continent. The network will gather relevant information and host electronic discussions on its website. The main aim is to promote dialogue on policy issues such as biosafety and the conservation of genetic resources. It will encourage researchers, policymakers, farmers and the media to share information and discuss how biotechnology can improve agriculture.


Solution to keep children at bay
Norfolk schools (UK) are taking precautionary steps to stop children accessing unsuitable sites on the web. About 17 schools in the county have signed up to 'securus', a software package designed to detect, record and report all aspects of PC misuse including issues such as cyber bullying, racism, pornography and predator grooming. The service searches for inappropriate words and phrases in all applications and monitors for harmful activities, whether generated internally or externally, online or offline. Parents of the participating schools with the system are to get a home version free of charge.

Website launched for parents to guide children in their studies
A new Discovery Channel homework Website was launched for parents to refresh the knowledge of math and history to guide their children in their studies.

Cosmeo, a new online subscription site from Discovery Communications, offers a range of tools from a WebMath equation solver to educational videos and subject-specific Brain Games. Launched recentally, the site targets Web-savvy children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Cosmeo is located at http://www.cosmeo.com and costs $9.95 per month or $99 per year.

Other features include interactive quizzes, a digital encyclopaedia and a digital photo library.


Novel structure for IT business
An Indian business process outsourcing (BPO) player, is offering unconventional; BOT – Build-Operate-Transfer model to its outsourced services clients.

The Mumbai based organisation, Omnitech InfoSolutions is said to making good bargain in the business. It has come up with a proposition, where it builds the facility, hires employees and runs the operation for a certain period. It claims to give benefits of a customised operation exactly tailored to the specific need without the hassle of running a captive unit. Recently Omnitech has also launched a hardware-software appliance 'Omni-Monitor,' to monitor IT infrastructure and applications in real time.

Extol to launch ICT solutions
The Extol group is planning  to launch four solutions by the end of the year- including Artificial Intelligent, fraud-detection system and forensic server for security purposes.

Extol also plans to expand its business by stepping up marketing efforts for its managed security solutions (MSS) suite of services, which comprise of hardware that detects, reacts and protects ICT systems from computer-related security threats.  

GP-to-GP data transfer in making the way easier for general practioners General Practitioners in UK are benefited from GP-to-GP data transfer system, according to a new survey conducted for InPS (which supplies Windows-based clinical systems for Primary Care). 

The survey also highlighted GPs' caution over how Practice Based Commissioning will work and its effect on Practice finances, as it rolls out in England in 2006. It showed many GPs welcome plans enabling pharmacists to handle non-critical patient consultations, so freeing up GP appointments. The online survey, done in March, targeted GPs in practices across the UK, with a total of 390 responses.     


Rural e-Governance initiative by Vortex Technologies Ltd
Vortex Technologies Ltd, an enterprise solutions developer has announced the launch of probably the first-of-its-kind rural e-Governance initiative, Softrack.net 2.0, at Hyderabad in India.

 Softrack.net, has features that allow monitoring of rural issues and grievances besides the flow of funds through schemes like MPLADS.

Andhra Pradesh State Assembly Speaker K.R. Suresh Reddy, who unveiled the new solution, mooted a proposal to introduce e-Petitions wherein the people in rural areas could directly send their grievances to the authorities as well as legislatures using Softrack.net. There is a need to introduce concept like e-Petitions
wherein the grievances can directly taken up in the Assembly.

e-Seva, friendly citizen service
e-Seva has come a long way since 1999 in Andhra Pradesh, India and it has proved to be  the best example for government-to-citizen service.

Instead going to one department to another, multiple government services are provided under a 'single window.' It is particularly of value to less-affluent and less-influential people, who do not enjoy the luxury of servants or peons who can spend time standing in queues. The ambience is good, the place is clean, less noisy and there is an air-conditioned environment, uncluttered by dilapidated furniture. There is access to drinking water, facilities like Automatic Teller Machine (ATM). The services are offered at dozens of centres, each with several counters, in a public-private-partnership model.



Intel on innovative move in health sector
There is always a room for vast opportunities for the IT industry to flourish around healthcare.

Intel group has identified health as an area of special study and the job of its digital health group is competing enough to fill the lacunae. Software developers attending Intel's Developer Forum (IDF), in April, noticed the critical plight of medical staff  inspite of 90 percent the of the 30 billion healthcare transactions being carried via mail, fax or phone in every year especially in US. Immediate urgency was sought into areas that helps in improving communications between doctors and patients, managing drug delivery and asset management, maintaining electronic medical records and to develop and deploy standards that would help to integrate desparate medical systems with ICT utilities.

IT enabled child welfare
The government of UK has outlined details of regulations that will enable it to begin trialling a new information-sharing index for children. The index will hold basic identifying information on all children in England  and contain the names and contact details of practitioners providing specialist and targeted services to a child. The system is hoped to improve the reliability and quality of public services for all children, young people and families by early detection and intervention.


Quincy farmland to see high tech boom
Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc., the two technology giants, are planning to build massive data storage centres amid the farm fields of Quincy, rural central Washington, USA.

The developments come as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google Inc. and Time Warner Inc.'s America Online, as a part of efforts to compete for customers loyalty.The Quincy area is attractive to Microsoft for a number of reasons: space availablity, access to power, and proximity to the company headquarters. Tech companies are intending to take work as far  as India and China.  It would be interesting to see the changes that comes to Quincy  from that of a rural enterprise into a technologically informed  town in the next five years. http://www.cnn.com

Women Day, empowers women through ICT
In Bangladesh, Women's Day was distinctly contemplated on empowering women through ICT (Information and Communication Technology).

ICT has a strategic link with poverty reduction. Moreover it is expected to increase resources in their hands to be self reliant, empowered and reduce discrimination against them. Micro-credit for self-employment schemes were also detailed that enhances  the women's decision-making capacity. Likewise, for any amount of earnings, women need to get some expertise in ICT which, will help them to earn more and to be more empowered with effective inter personel skills.The view gained strong support of Government of Bangladesh as well as of the non governmental organisations (NGOs) country wise. http://www.drishtipat.org


Open source

Open source software for education projects
A whole raft of new projects was unveiled by James Clark, the manager of the Software Industry Promotion Agency's open source department, at the function, Asia-Pacific ICT Awards 2005.

Clark spoke of the one million notebook for students project, which will be based entirely on open source and open standards and, which is a part of the programme by MIT to bridge the digital divide and provide access for all. It is expected that with enough students going home and turning their machines on, it will enable them  to remain connected through the school server or even the Internet. Clark explained that the software for the Thai system would be basically the same version that MIT and Red Hat were working on, a low-memory footprint version of Linux.


A-Data Technology unveiled USB and solar disk thumb drive

Taiwan-based A-Data Technology has unveiled a USB memory stick that doubles as a portable VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone. It allows a user who is on a holiday or working on the road to plug it into virtually any Internet-connected PC and use it to make their VoIP phone calls. Also equipped with an MP3 player and video player functions. It comes in three storage capacities. Users can load their phone books and other information on the device, and use it anywhere they can plug it in.

Cisco's integrated Internet solution for security
Thailand SME sector, increasingly relying on the Internet, urged for an integrated network firewall that looks into security system as well.

To address the need, Cisco has turned up with its ASA 5500 series of firewall/router in cooperation with anti-virus experts Trend Micro. Unlike most other firewalls, the new unit not only has the usual firewall, virtual private network and SSL VPN (encrypted VPN) facilities, but adds a subscription-based anti-X system from Trend Micro that will help prevent many viruses, Trojans, spam and phishing attacks.The system is designed to augment desktop-based security solutions rather than replace them.

An innovative keyboard for non-English community by HP Labs, India A gesture-based keyboard [GKB], was developed by researchers at HP Labs India.

The pen-based technology will allow users to compute in their own respective languages even without prior knowledge of English or typing. This is hoped to benefit more than 1.5 billion non-English speaking people, including Indian, Nepalese, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi and other phonetic script users. The device is expected to be manufactured and distributed by a third party, based on technology licensed from HP.           


Telecentre move in Rwanda
The Government of Rwanda has earmarked a total amount of US$1billion (Frw560bn) to be invested in establishing and promoting telecentres in the country.

The State Minister for Communi-cations Eng. Butare pledged government's commitment to ensure the spread of ICT to rural areas, in a bid to supplement poverty reduction strategies.

“The government's commitment is envisaged in the integrated ICT policy of NICI II that emphasizes communication access to rural areas. It is clear that the telecentres will help in closing the communication gap among the rural people and the government is ready to invest in the establishment,” Butare underscored.

Telecentres' project would be accelerated to enable people in rural areas access information. They are also enhanced to provide multi-purpose services through information, skills and consultancy, and business support by reducing the cost of doing business and business transactions between companies. The project is also aimed at transforming Rwanda into an ICT literate nation. The project is a way of improving access to information to enhance educational standards and to foster human resource development of Rwandans. This is also expected to lead to job-creation, sustainable growth and increase investments in poor people to facilitate their participation in the development.

Nortel, Bharti signed to host contact centre at Delhi, India
Bharti Tele-Ventures has signed a five-year managed services agreement with Nortel to host contact centre services for more than 19.7 million Airtel subscribers.

Nortel will create a Network Operations Centre (NOC) in New Delhi. Once the project is implemented, Airtel users can dial a single number from anywhere in India, to be able to speak in English, Hindi, or four other regional languages to complete routine transactions and subscribe to new services.  Nortel has also designed the architecture for future interactive video response capability.



Vodafone to takeover Venfin
Vodafone, Britain based celluar operator is to finalise its takeover of VenFin by acquiring the few of its outstanding shares. Investors holding 373,4- million shares readily accepted Vodafone's bid of R47,25 a share, a generous 41% premium to VenFin's previous trading price. With acceptances received for 98,5% of the stock, that leaves just 1,5% yet to be handed over, Vodafone is to invoke section 440K of the Companies Act to force the owners to sell those shares so it could take over VenFin's assets and delist the company. A circular and a surrender form has already been sent out to the reluctant shareholders.

Microsoft in making of self-sustaining rural India
IT major Microsoft Corporation (India) Pvt Ltd is going to launch a rural portal shortly within next three to six months. The company is looking at partnerships to develop the portal with relevant information.

The company has unveiled a self-sustaining kiosk model initiative aimed at taking IT benefits to rural India. It is a public-private partnership, called as Saksham (meaning self-sustaining in Sanskrit), on which the portal is being developed. Market linkages will be strengthened in association with ICRISAT and other institutes. The company is looking to set up over 10,000 kiosks in Andhra Pradesh. Similar experiments are being conducted for sugarcane in Tamil Nadu, Kanchipuram silk sarees, food processing industry in Gujarat.

received for 98,5% of the stock, that leaves just 1,5% yet to be handed over, Vodafone is to invoke section 440K of the Companies Act to force the owners to sell those shares so it could take over VenFin's assets and delist the company. A circular and a surrender form has already been sent out to the reluctant shareholders.

Single tower plan by cellular operators
Cellular operators have agreed to share infrastructure to bring down set-up costs. The infrastructure sharing would begin in Delhi and then in Mumbai, after which the model will be replicated in other parts of the country. A working group under a Joint Secretary in the Department of Telecom will work out the modalities of the infrastructure sharing. The group will be headed by a joint secretary in the Department of Telecom and would have officials of the service providers as members. Sharing infrastructure would mean having a single tower where all the operators can install their equipment and each tower costs around Rs 35 lakh.



Broadband business to boom in Thailand
Broadband Internet use is all set to overtake dial-up access this year in Thailand.

In line with the growth in broadband, the percentage of users on dial-up connections dropped from 39 percent in 2004 to just 30 percent last year. The most common activity online is email (24 percent), followed by information searching at 22 percent, while games and chat were used by 13 percent of respondents. e-Commerce has been done by most users, with 69 percent indicating they had purchased something line. The most common service was reservations (20 percent) and buying movie tickets (19 percent) and software (16 percent). Those connected via broadband typically spent between 500 to 1,000 baht a month for service. ADSL/xDSL accounted for 87.6 percent of connections, while cable modem had 4.6 percent and ISDN 4.4 percent.

'EU Intranet Cooperation Forum' to combat cases of incitement to hatred
The European Commission proposed 'TV without Frontiers' Directive to use a 'EU Intranet Cooperation Forum' to challenge programmes, which stimulate seditious hatred.

This issue has been discussed by Europe's broadcasting regulators at a meeting in Brussels today. The regulators supported the Commission's proposal to launch a new EU Intranet Cooperation Forum as an effective means to combat clear cases of incitement to hatred in broadcast and audiovisual media services whilst meticulously respecting the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. European Broadcasting Regulators also discussed the modernisation of the TV without Frontiers Directive and the amendments to step up the fight against incitement to hatred.


Check on child pornography by Internet and financial firms
A group of financial institutions and Internet firms have joined together to form a coalition against child pornography.

The organisations involved in the coalition aims to share information about commercial child pornography sites and ensure that payments for images are not passed on. It will also issue, cease and desist notices to websites.

Thereby, it tries to restrict profit, from selling child porn within two years. Net users are appealed to report on such sites to local watchdogs. The website of the International Association of Internet hotlines, hosts lists of reporting organisations in many countries.

Microsoft cautions malicious bugs at Internet
Three new bugs have been discovered, that are on its way to invade Internet. Microsoft has cautioned net users of all the three bugs, which would produce patches for the vulnerabilities in its next security update, due on 11 April. Those using the patched versions of IE bundled with Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 are vulnerable to these bugs.

The first of the problems discovered in Internet explorer, simply  will make the browser program crash, if used for visiting a specially crafted webpage.

The other two vulnerabilities are potentially more serious because they can be used to take control of the victim's computer. Microsoft urged users to avoid websites they did not trust and  refrain from opening attachments on e-mail messages from unknown senders.

Scientific tempered online forum for women
An online forum, AGORA to support women's contribution towards scientific progress has been launched by UNESCO and cosmetics company L'Oreal.

Though all Internet users can access the forum entries, only members of partnership can contribute to the website.

AGORA will focus on topics such as science education for girls and women, women on science and sustainable development, bioethics and diversity. The forum aims to strengthen ties among community members, and provide space for discussing crucial issues facing the world.

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