Gates offers agri-kiosks to Maharashtra
The Chief Minister of Maharashtra Vilasrao Deshmukh informed that Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has offered to help the Maharashtra government set up agro-kiosks to serve farmers in the state, apart from setting up a research centre near Pune.
The agro-kiosks will help farmers get the latest information on weather, cropping patterns and trends in agricultural produce prices very quickly and efficiently. The project should improve the condition of farmers in the state that has witnessed mass suicides by agriculturists in last couple of years. The central and state governments would be spending INR 55 billion over the next three years on agriculture, 80 percent of which would be allocated to improving irrigation facilities. The Government of Maharashtra and Microsoft had signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a Microsoft research centre in Hinjewadi near Pune. The Maharashtra Government has allotted 25 acres of land for the project. Moreover, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already contributed $100 million for the spread of AIDS awareness.
Farm women plan mobile vending unit in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu (India) farm Women in Agri Business and Extension (TANWABE), a group comprising of 15 farm women of Ayyanbommayapuram in Vilathikulam taluk of Tuticorin district, are going to launch a ‘mobile unit’ to sell agriculture produce.
TANWABE plans to introduce a ‘sales outlet on wheels’ from the first week of August, 2007 so as to deliver quality agricultural products, both farm fresh and value added ones, at prices lower than in the open market at the doorsteps of people. The group was formed under the TANWABE concept, which was launched by the Department of Agriculture, with an aim to empower rural farm women in agricultural and extension activities. Besides a wide range of items, the flagship product of the group, a herbal oil made by mixing coconut oil, hibiscus/shoe flower, curry leaf, amla and bhangra, would be at the disposal of customers through the mobile unit. The oil will be priced at INR 20 for 100 ml.
UNESCO launches school community radio in the Caribbean
The secondary school of Bequia has launched a community radio station in the Caribbean in collaboration with the UNESCO. The Community multi-media center (CMC) aims to establish school framework in the first initiative of the programme. It aims to stimulate teaching training while throwing a bridge between formal education and non-formal education. The CMC will provide various training programmes, including Internet, radiophonic production of contents, numerical assembly, preparation of scenarios, techniques of interview to students and teachers. The CMC will allow the pupils and teachers to express their ideas and their creativity. It will also support the production and the diffusion of contents in favour of the development and the autonomisation of the community.
e-Procurement Project of Govt of AP bags UN Public Service Award for 2007
The e-Procurement project (http://www.eprocurement.gov.in) of the Government of AP has bagged the prestigious UN Public Service Award for 2007.
The Award was given under the head: Improving Transparency, Accountability and Responsiveness in the Public Service. This project is the only one spotted from India for the distinction. There are, in all, 14 awards in various categories from across the world. ASCI had taken the initiative to nominate the e-Procurement Project to the UN panel for this award. The selection of projects for the honors was a multi-stage process and finally an expert committee of the UN selected the winners.
The e-Procurement project built and managed by the Information Technology and Communications Department of the Government of AP is an Internet-based platform for Government procurement. This was a pioneering project when it came about in 2003. This project has led to enormous savings in Government procurement, brought down the cycle time of the tendering process, improved transparency and brought about a level-playing field between small and large government suppliers. This project has received several awards in the past, but winning the UN Award is certainly a crowning glory, bringing honour to AP and India. ASCI congratulates the e-Procurement Project team from the Government of AP for this outstanding achievement.
Bahrain Govt launches debit card payment services
The Bahrain Government has launched online payment facility for debit card users. The Ministry of Finance has signed an agreement with the Ahli United Bank to enable the debit card payment facility. The government has launched a variety of eGovernment services, including Government Data Network (GDN), Smart Card and eGovernment Portal to drive Bahrain to a leadership position in eGovernment. The portal will allow debit card holders to pay their bills through online. The Benefit Payment Gateway is an advanced online payment solution that allows merchants, corporate and government entities to interact with their individual customers to process and settle online credit and debit cards payments via Internet or any other electronic channel with protection and integrity throughout a complete payment process cycle.
Bago rice farmers now use Internet
A group of farmers in Brgy. Dulao, Bago City are now accessing up-to-date farming information from multi-media sources, including the Internet.
The cyber community of Lopue’s Farmers and Laborers Association (LOFALAS), a first in Western Visayas, is one of the projects of the Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture, popularly known as the Pinoy Farmers’ Internet, under the International Rice Research Institute, located in Philippines. LOFALAS has two sets of computer with accessories and compact discs containing the Knowledge Bank and the Rice Production Guide.
m-Learning project in Africa
Standford University has launched a project International Outreach Program (IOP) that is changing the way universities think about distance learning. The University has launched the project, the Dunia Moja Project – “one world” in Swahili in collaboration with its three partner universities in Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa.
The mobile learning project enables scientists and students to access environmental-science course materials and interact with each other using high-tech mobile phones. Both Ericsson and Sony Ericsson are collaborating with Stanford to provide mobile smart phones equipped with video cameras, audio recorders, and Internet capability, as well as technical and other support for the pilot version of the course. Students at Makerere University, Mweka College of African Wildlife Management, University of the Western Cape, and Stanford University use the phones to access the course website, send text messages, and post media to mobile blogs.
Interactive learning programme through iPod
McGraw-Hill Higher Education, a premier provider of print and digital teaching and learning solutions for the post-secondary and higher-education markets, is the first major educational publisher to offer college-level content for the iQuiz game application on Apple’s iPod.
McGraw-Hill Higher Education’s EZ Test Online program can create and deliver multiple-choice or true/false quiz questions using iQuiz for iPod. EZ Test Online combines high quality content with the ability to prepare and deliver tests to students in a variety of ways. To set up and deliver a quiz to students via iPod, instructors simply press the iQuiz button in EZ Test Online to export a quiz ready for use with iQuiz. Once students download the quiz into their iPod, they can use the interactive iQuiz to practice and learn the content specific for their course. Students can quickly self-assess and receive their quiz scores instantly. EZ Test Online is accessible to busy instructors virtually anywhere via the Web, and the program eliminates the need for them to install test software.
SMS service to provide free malaria information to UK travellers
Healthcare specialist iPLATO has developed text messaging service, which will allow citizens of UK to receive immediate and free travel health information regarding malaria. GlaxoSmithKline Travel Health has funded the project as part of the Malaria Awareness Campaign, which allows travellers to text in the name of their destination country to receive relevant information about the malaria prevalence in that country. The service is designed so that once a traveller has been informed about the level of malaria risk at their destination they will be encouraged to contact a healthcare professional for expert advice on protection. Travellers using the service are charged their standard operator rates and the service is available over all networks.
World Bank approves additional funds for health development in Tanzania
The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has currently approved an additional International Development Association (IDA) credit of US$ 60 million for the Government of Tanzania to support the second phase of the Health Sector Development Project.
The additional funds of the World Bank will support Tanzania’s Second Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP) for an additional two years: 2007-2009. Through this project there will be increased funds for more efficient delivery of essential health services and staffing at district level. Out of the total additional financing, US$ 35 million will be disbursed through a pooled fund, which finances the annual work plan and budget of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and the Comprehensive Council Health Plans of 121 districts. Nine Development Partners, including the World Bank, United Nations Fund for Population Activities, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland will contribute to this “health basket fund” in order to reduce transaction costs and strengthen government systems. The remaining US$ 25 million will support the Government of Tanzania’s innovative public-private partnership for increasing the use of insecticide treated bed-nets to prevent malaria.
The main objective of the additional financing is to assist the Government of Tanzania in continuing to improve the quality of health services and the management of resources allocated to the health sector through strengthening health sector policy and strategy, and through building institutional capacity. The Government of Tanzania in 2000, with support of IDA and other development partners, embarked on a long-term health sector development program aimed at improving access, utilization, quality and financing of health services through increased efficiency and effectiveness in use and allocation of resources.
IIM Ahmedabad steps into Healthcare
The Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, has developed a model for improving urban health services in collaboration with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC).
The IIM’s Centre for Management of Health Services (CMHS) has set up the Urban Health Care (UHC) model to specially focus on urban poor, living in slums and chawls. The IIM-A model is based on extensive use of Geographic Information System (GIS) to locate urban health centres in each ward, to ensure availability, access, affordability and equity of healthcare services. The model is already implemented in the Vasna part of the capital and is getting a good response from the users. According to Prof Ramani, the Vasna Urban Health Centre is the first of its kind in India providing a comprehensive line of services under one roof including consultation, lab and radiology services, medication, and referral services.
Senate Appropriations Committee approves amendment to improve livelihoods
The Senate Appropriations Committee in USA has approved the proposal to help rural schools, libraries and health-care facilities.
The provision is included as part of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill and would exempt the universal service program funding for rural schools, libraries and health care facilities from the Anti-deficiency Act. This will allow schools and health clinics to get funding support for distance learning and tele-medicine in a timely fashion. This initiative will help rural schools, libraries and health care facilities in Alaska, and other places in America, that receive funding for distance learning and tele-medicine.
QUALCOMM launches fisher friend to empower fishing communities in India
QUALCOMM, M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Tata Teleservices and Astute System Technology are collaborating to develop a BREW-based mobile application, which empowers fishing communities in India. QUALCOMM and MSSRF have joined together to create the Fisher Friend project and Fisher Friend application for fishing communities. Fisher Friend is a mobile application, which is based on QUALCOMM’s BREW solution and works on 3G CDMA and WCDMA handsets. The new application allows fishing communities to use ICT and wireless technology to earn their livelihood. Fishermen can send a request form from a menu-driven client software on the mobile phone. Fishermen can access vital updates on opportunities, risk and market information in their local language. Presently, the application is implemented in the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu. Fisher Friend project aims to be extended in other communities in the coastal belts of India.
e-Learning for Norfolk children
Now, dozens of sick and excluded school children have been able to sit in their exams this summer due to an innovative e-Learning programme run by Norfolk County Council.
The Norfolk County Council has set up hundreds of SAT GCSEs in school halls and classrooms across the county, so that these students can give their exam from home. The e-Learning scheme is currently supporting nearly 100 children through online lessons, so that they can have one-on-one electronic sessions with teachers and in interactive classrooms, where they can communicate with other students. One of the most useful tools for children’s development and education is the interactive classroom, which allows youngsters to raise a virtual-hand in class, speak to their peers and listen to what the teacher and other members of the class are saying via a headset. The teacher in turn can keep an eye on the progress of the student and assess how much they are doing through an in-class monitor.
Nokia offers Mobile Newspaper in Kerala, India
Nokia is the first company in India to offer Mobile Newspaper in association with the leading news publication, Malayala Manorama. The company has launched “vernacular news portal” in Kerala, India.
Users of Nokia GPRS-enabled handsets would be able to get both national and international news in their native language and across categories like sports, travel, music, astrology, and movies. All they need to do is to send ‘MM’ as SMS to 5555. They will subsequently receive an URL on their handsets, clicking upon which will help them download the news portal icon onto their phones. Nokia has partnered with various media houses in the country to bring value-added services in 10 languages including Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya, Assamese, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada in association with leading media houses across India.
Strategy to enhance ICT sector in Jordan
Public and private sector leaders of the ICT industry in Jordan has launched a four year strategy to help revive the sector and enhance its competitiveness.
The National ICT Strategy, the outcome of joint efforts by the Information Technology Association of Jordan (int@j), the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC). The strategy seeks to increase the number of people who use the Internet up to 50 per cent from the current 11 per cent. It also aims to increase employment in the sector to reach 35,000 jobs from 16,000 jobs. In addition, it aims to double the current US$ 1.5 billion revenues by the year 2011, according to int@j CEO Sabri Tabbaa.
Reliance, SREI team up for info kiosks in India
Reliance Communication has partnered with the SREI Sahaj e-Village Limited for the development of Common Service Centres (CSC) in West Bengal under the National e-Governance Programme (NeGP), had been signed between the two private companies and the West Bengal government. Under the Master Service Agreement (MSA), all the 6797 ‘Tathyamitra’ CSCs in the state would be operational within one year from the date of signing the MSA. Reliance has been given the charge of developing these centres in 4 districts of the state, while SREI is slated to develop these CSCs in 14 other districts. These CSCs have been designed with the aim of helping people in rural West Bengal avail the benefits of online services in health, medicine, education and government-related affairs, and also sustain the rural economy by providing income to several VLEs.
ISRO plans to set up more village resource centres in India
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), India is planning to set up more village resource centres to impart training in skills using locally relevant technologies like a wireless local loop system and a remote access switch developed by the IIT.
The WLL technology will expand connectivity across villages, enabling rural people to develop appropriate skills and entrepreneurship. While delivering the convocation address at Satyabaama University here, ISRO Chairman V Madhavan Nair, the cost-effectiveness of the wireless technology will overcome the economic disadvantage associated with far-flung sparse rural connections. ISRO has already used Wi-Fi technology to provide services in remote and unconnected villages.
QUALCOMM in Thailand
QUALCOMM Inc. has launched the Wireless Reach Initiative in Koh Panyee, Ban Pakkoh and Phang Nga communities of Southern Thailand. The company is working with the CAT Telecom Public Company Limited (CAT), the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), the Office of the Non-Formal Education Commission (ONFEC), the Ministry of Education and Axesstel Inc. to provide EV-DO high- peed wireless services to fulfill the medical and educational needs of these communities. The company will donate telemedicine equipment for two public health stations on the two islands. Desktop computers and wireless connectivity would also be provided to the main hospital in Phang Nga community. The wireless service will connect the public health stations with the hospitals, which enables them to transmit data to the hospital and benefit from real-time access to doctors. The Thailand Wireless Reach initiative will also establish telecentres in Tub Pud Public Library and Kura Buri Public Library in the Phang Nga area.
NRCFOSS, the Indian Govt body to promote open source software
National Resource Centre for Free/Open Source Software (NRCFOSS), India is planning to bring its programme on free/open source software to Gujarat in collaboration with engineering colleges in the state. NRCFOSS is initiating and promoting development and deployment of Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) tools, technologies, products, architectures and solutions in various relevant application domains. Initiative is under the SOA framework where e-Governance, technical, SMEs and school education are some of the domains being explored. The Centre has trained 100 teachers for 200 hours in the first phase of the project. In second phase, the Centre is planning to extend its presence to Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra & Kerala.
Japan Govt adopts open source standards
The Japan Government has adopted open source policy under which government ministries and agencies will solicit bids from software vendors whose products support internationally recognized open standards.
The government will give preference to procuring products, which adhere to open standards and easily interoperate with other software with use of the new interoperability framework. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has designed the new guidelines, while other ministries and agencies will deploy the guidelines. The interoperability framework also suggests that the guidelines would also be useful for private industry.
Intel goes rural with lend-n-lease tie-ups
The world’s number one chip-maker Intel has partnered with the Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) and ICICI Bank to reach out to the burgeoning small enterprise sector as well as the rural heartland of 6.5 lakh villages. This partnership will help to set up more than one lakh Common Service Centres (CSCs) in the rural hinterland equipped to provide PCs Internet and a variety of locally relevant services. Intel will provide expertise on the hardware and software configurations as well as educational packages under its “World Ahead” programme. The company has partnered with the ICICI bank to enhance the large reseller and PC assembler network to provide computer muscle to the SME sector.
Nigcomsat partners banks on micro credit to ICT-related SMEs
Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT Ltd) is planning to partner with banks to provide micro-credit finance for small-and-medium scale enterprises in the information communication technology sector. Under the scheme, the banks will provide the funding while NIGCOMSAT Ltd will provide Internet services at highly subsidised rate to small business operators. NIGCOMSAT Ltd is aimed to empower the SMEs and also planning to establish community combination centres across the country.
The businessmen in the rural areas will be able to make profits and the rural people will be able to afford it. NIGCOMSAT Ltd is going to develop two driving considerations in the solutions, accessibility and affordability. NIGCOMSAT Ltd is trying to partner with some Nigerian banks through which they will be able to access micro credit.
NATCOM to improve telecommunications services in Sierra Leone
The National Telecommunication Commission (NATCOM) of Sierra Leone announced that currently, the Commi-ssion is developing a consumer-friendly programme and procedures to improve telecommunications services in the country.
NATCOM recognised that telecommu-nications operators, service providers and consumers make up the stakeholder-community in the industry. The commission also wishes to promote fair competition among telecommunications operators and protect telecommunications and consumers from unfair conduct on the part of other operators, especially with regard to equality of services and the tariff payable in respect of those services. This will also provide deadlines on tariffs chargeable for the provision of services and ensure universal availability of efficient, reliable, cost-effective and affordable telecommunications services throughout Sierra Leone.
Mississippi Govt partners Motorola to develop statewide wireless network
Mississippi Government has signed a deal with Motorola Inc for the development and deployment of a statewide interoperable emergency communications voice and radio network.
The new mission-critical voice and data system will provide seamless interoperable emergency communications coverage throughout the state. The project is known as the Mississippi Wireless Information Network (MSWIN) and will utilize the robust 700 MHz dedicated public safety network. Motorola is shipping three rapid deployable Sites on Wheels (SOWS) to assist the Mississippi Gulf Coast area, which will serve as an interim communication system while the permanent facilities are under construction.
Motorola will design and implement MSWIN in a three-phase timeline, using the Mississippi Highway Patrol districts as guidelines. Phase I will include the Southern Region of the state, and use MHP Districts 7, 8 and 9. Phase II will include the Central Region (MHSP Districts 1, 5 and 6) and Phase III the Northern Region (MHP Districts 2, 3 and 4).