EC approves Sheffield's data web

Sheffield City Council's Public Data Web project has been held up as a model of e-government best practice by the European...

Sheffield City Council's Public Data Web project has been held up as a model of e-government best practice by the European Commission.

Council officials have been invited to exhibit the citizen portal at the From Policy to Practice e-government conference in Brussels this week.

The portal, which is available from kiosks and council offices, provides local people with e-mail and Web access as well as information on services such as transport.

Ken Bellamy, head of ICT strategy at Sheffield City Council, said, "The selling point from our point of view was that we were trying to bridge the digital divide by giving access to people that don't have a PC at home."

There are 10 kiosks providing access to the portal in Sheffield and another 50 will be in service next year.

Bellamy believes the Public Data Web is playing a crucial role in helping Sheffield meet Tony Blair's e-government agenda.

"The idea that everything on the Internet provides e-government is only part of the story, you have to provide access when and where people want it," he said.

Launched in February last year, the next version of the Public Data Web will deliver the service over the Internet although council officials have an ambitious plan to eventually link the portal to satellite technology.

Bellamy said, "The street kiosks will be connected to satellites as part of a European Commission-funded pilot scheme into satellite broadband."

The technology has been identified as a key means of delivering broadband to rural areas and under-developed countries, he said.

The scheme, which is scheduled to begin in the middle of next year, will be piloted in Sheffield and three Greek islands.

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