A digital agenda

January 4, 2012

One of the last publications from 2011, and hence one that  had to wait until 2012 for me to find time to read, was the ‘Digital Agenda for Europe – Annual Progress Report 2011’ published on the 22 December 2011. There are no hidden surprises that I could find  but the original report was covered in Europe Calling in May 2011.

There seems to be a big hope in the EU that citizens will buy goods online from other countries and the EU are even measuring it – 9%, which is 25% up on 2008 – but why? Isn’t it enough that citizens are buying the best goods at the best price without adding delivery miles?

The Commission is also announced as publishing a strategy on stimulating ‘cloud computing’ in 2012, although this seems to be more about innovation and the single market than ‘green’ or anything else, which since we have enough problems with introducing ‘cloud’ into English government, without considering cross-border ‘clouds’.

One good piece of news is that the Commission is reviewing the State Aid Guidelines on Broadband Deployment, which have caused some grief in England – I’m sure if these were made clearer it would help everyone! Similarly the proposal for Rural Development for 2014 – 2020 allows for access to ICT and very high-speed broadband in rural areas, which if made simpler would benefit areas like the one I work in.

Strangely there is also a demand that public sector websites are fully accessible by 2015 and that proposals around this should be released by the EU in the next six months, and that in the six months after there is planned to be a single instrument on the topics of eSignatures, eIdentity and eAuthentication, which may be amusing given the UK’s lack of anything substantial for government along with hardcore resistance to it doing anything.

Europe calling!

May 23, 2010

Following the election and the resultant coalition I’m not sure where the UK stands on Europe! However the 19 May saw the publication of a Digital Agenda for Europe. The site includes a number of electronic documents including a paper entitled “What would it do for me” and a country-by-country profile, which includes the UK.

There’s nothing obviously new in the plans but it does give a sense that we haven’t got as far as the Lisbon Treaty or the Bangermann report had planned and the resultant frustration in Brussels is driving requirements now.

However I find the actual statistics somewhat dubious. According to them the UK has 100% access to DSL broadband and are top in Europe. Although measures are being taken to improve this, I’m not aware that we actually have 100%! In fact it then goes on to state that coverage is 99.6% in rural areas, which I still suspect is an exaggeration…

It also states that 100% of “basic government services” are available online. These must be more of the Cap-Gemini or Accenture statistics that I, and others, find so frustrating! In fact the rest of the figures leave me in serious doubt as to what they actually mean.

I know we have to start somewhere with benchmarks, but a reality check would be helpful.

However, and in addition, I have reservations over any further development of the EU Services Directive given the recent farce with ELMS by BIS or whatever the Whitehall department may be called in future. This is another of those initiatives that would have been wonderful in the year 2003 but is now imposed upon existing technical solutions at great cost and effort. I suspect Whitehall have no idea of the grief they caused!