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UK public sector Internet use - e-mail newsletter

From: <entevents@pop3.mail.demon.net>
Date: Tue, 21 Oct 1997 17:16:50 +0000
To: IIB@pop3.mail.demon.net
Message-ID: <877509030.2025848.0@[]>
Hi there - 

I'd like to let people know about a new free e-mail newsletter on
public sector Internet use in the UK, Internet Intelligence Bulletin.
The newsletter is a monthly, edited version of our fortnightly
subscription-only service, but is intended as a valuable information
source in its own right for everyone interested in public sector
Internet; community networking; government Internet policy; etc etc.

I attach a sample copy below for your information: if you would like
to receive them regularly, please e-mail subs@iib.com with 'Subscribe
free-version' in the subject header. You may enter any number of
colleague e-mail addresses in the body of the e-mail for addition to
the circulation list.

Best wishes,

Dan Jellinek,

Internet Intelligence Bulletin
Free Version



* * * Government proposes huge, organic educational network * * *

The government unveiled a range of measures this week aimed at
connecting all the nation's schools to the Internet by 2002.

It intends to create a huge, organic network of educational services
and forums for exchange of ideas between teachers, pupils, libraries
and museums which will sit within the wider Internet, to be known as
the National Grid of Learning.

The grid will begin as a prototype based on Department for Education
and Employment servers next year, and the aim is to develop it through
a network of separate schemes run by individual schools or groups of
schools in partnership with private sector consortia, which will be
given National Grid certification by the government.

Some 50 million is to be spent next year by the DfEE on
communications technology for schools, and sources say that similar
amounts have been earmarked for the subsequent three of four years.

The 50m is being allocated on a 50-50 part-funding basis, with
schools being required to find a matching amount from existing
budgets; private sector sponsorship; or fund-raising from parents or

This is an accepted method of funding schools capital schemes. 
However, some schools have expressed fears that private sector
sponsorship from IT-related companies may tie them in to other
computer-related deals which restrict what they can do with

Further money from the lottery - also around 50m a year, the Bulletin
has learned - has been pledged to train existing teachers in
technology awareness and use, to bring all teachers up to the same
level as new student teachers, who from next year will all receive
technology training.

A government-run on-line catalogue of public sector IT consultancy
services, S- CAT, is due to be launched on Monday. See the `What's
new' section of the Government Information Service next week for
details: http://www.open.gov.uk

The Society of Public Information Networks (SPIN) is holding a
conference in Bristol on 1 December on the cutting edge of local
authority public information services including information kiosks,
Internet sites, intranet systems and community partnerships. Full
details at: http://www.spin.org.uk



The British Tourist Authority's new logo - a deconstructed Union Jack
with swirls and patches of colour - follows another modernising move
at the authority which received less coverage but is no less

This was the July launch of the 40,000 page `VisitBritain' web site,
trumpeted by Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Chris Smith as
"possibly the largest, most comprehensive web site launched in Britain
to date".

The site, said Mr Smith, would provide tourists across the world with
one-stop access to information on Britain's attractions as a holiday

Its features include:
* An interactive map to help locate information, places to visit,
events, and tourist information centres;
* a `virtual brochure', an innovative feature which allows visitors 
to store items of interest from around the web site in one place;
* a shop selling books, guides and gifts;
* detailed information about destinations in England,
Scotland and Wales, including extensive photography;
* a media room, with press releases, background information and
broadcast quality video vaults; and
* special travel offers.

This gargantuan site was born out of a pilot BTA web site in May 1996,
which was set up to test the water and see where hits would come from.

The pilot site was produced in-house, and by gathering e-mail and
other feedback made some surprising discoveries: that 40% of users
were women, for example, and a significant proportion were over 50
years old. Less surprisingly, it was found that most of the e-mail
came from the US, but the remainder came from a very wide range of

Subsequent work on the full-scale VisitBritain site began nine months
ago, providing an Internet front-end to the BTA's existing TRIPS
tourist information database.

BTA spokesman Laurence Bresh says the site is aimed largely at the
overseas market, although the British public and the travel industry
were also intended to be major user groups.

The web interface is intended to handle all levels of inquiry from all
groups, he said, being able to drill down to a local level as well as
providing basic information on topics such as the currency, voltage
supply and so on.

The authority is funded largely by the government, although it does
have to find some private sector funding, and intends to reach a
position where the Internet service pays for itself through selling
advertising space - British Airways is already an advertiser -
offering special travel deals,  and offering hotels and others the
chance to provide more detailed information to users at a cost.

There are already around 20,000 accommodation sites listed, and hotels
can pay extra to have enhanced entries including pictures of rooms,
e-mail links and more detailed information. E-mail booking is also

The total set-up cost in the first year is 300,000, including design
fees, technological costs and staff, Mr Bresh says. "We'd like to see
that dramatically reduced in future years, and aim to break even in
our second year. We want to be the leading tourist authority Internet
site in the world - and we don't know of any other on this scale".

But the main aim in the short term, Mr Bresh says, is simply to ensure
the existing huge site is kept running smoothly. "We want to keep on
top of it and ensure it is kept up to date - so first we want a period
of stability, before we tune it finer to different markets", he said.

"We have created a monster, and we need to keep feeding it".
VisitBritain is at:



The new government has wasted no time in declaring its commitment to a
`wired' society.

This week Prime Minister Tony Blair entertained Microsoft chief Bill
Gates at 10 Downing Street in return for Mr Gates' views on how to
achieve the vision of a `National Grid for Learning' - the linking of
all UK schools to the Internet.

This makes it an interesting time to take a look at what legal steps
other governments have recently taken to encourage, or discourage, the
growth of the Internet.

In July this year President Clinton launched the US government's
report `A framework for electronic commerce' which takes a hands-off
approach to Internet regulation, and also declares that there should
be no new taxes or separate tax regime for business conducted online.
The most important legal principles outlined in the report are that: *
Government should avoid undue restrictions. Parties should be able to
enter into agreements to buy and sell across the Internet "with
minimal government involvement or intervention"; and

* "Electronic commerce over the Internet should be facilitated on a
global basis". A legal framework - based on a model law drafted by the
United Nations Commission on International Trade Law - should be
"governed by consistent principles across state, national and
international borders".

Contrast the US approach with some recent developments in Europe.

Earlier this year the European Union considered proposing a `bit tax'
- a levy intended to tax every bit of data moving over the Internet,
regardless of what kind of data is being moved - and although that
proposal was dismissed at a conference in Bonn in July (with the
German economics minister telling delegates "there should be no
discriminatory taxes and laws placed on the Internet") in Germany
itself computer users are now facing a new levy of around 120 on each
PC capable of downloading video content from the Internet (whether or
not it is actually used for this purpose).

So while the US declares itself `open for business' in cyberspace,
Europe is still trying to decide whether or not to grab the tiger's

* * * Jonathan Riley, Lawrence Graham * * *
E-mail: jonathan.riley@lawgram.co.uk
Tel: 0171 379 0000
Web: http://www.lawgram.com



OSHWEB is a Finland-based index of occupational health and safety
resources on the Internet, which will be of interest to many public
sector managers.

The range of material is broad and lively. Information presented falls
under many categories, including chemical safety; emergency
management; ergonomics/human factors; fire safety;  government
agencies; human-computer interaction; information services;
international organisations; occupational medicine; product safety;
risk management; and relevant Usenet newsgroups.

Alongside the more mainstream links, we find links to more off-beat
resources such as the `Emergency Preparedness Information Center'
(http://www.theepicenter.com), which will help you prepare for natural
disasters from hurricanes to tsunamis.

Received on Wednesday, 22 October 1997 04:41:25 UTC

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