Microsoft and eGovernment Partners Take Citizen Services to the Cloud
May 20, 2010
The partnership effort brings information to life for citizens, with technology that gives them greater insight, input and confidence in government decision-making.

BERGEN, Norway — May 20, 2010 — Today, at the fourth annual Microsoft Worldwide Government Solutions Forum in Bergen, Norway, Joel Cherkis, general manager for Applied Innovation in Public Sector at Microsoft Corp., outlined how the company’s Citizen Services Platform (CSP) and partner ecosystem will take advantage of Microsoft’s cloud-based solutions to give citizens — digital natives and newcomers — broad choices in how, where and when they access government services and to boost government efficiency.

“People expect a government that responds, acts and communicates with their digital lives,” Cherkis said. “Microsoft and our partners are helping provide government technology like CSP to empower citizens to have a continued conversation with their governments and empower governments to provide a proactive response.”

Boosting government efficiency improves delivery of citizen services, which drive individual and economic capacity, ultimately building a competitive society. Government can set up the right environment and structure to ensure that the potential of every individual is converted into results. To this end, Microsoft and its partners are part of this essential fabric, playing an important role in helping the economy thrive, addressing important societal challenges and empowering individual organizations, governments and citizens to reach their full potential through technology.

Software Innovation Moves Public 360° to the Cloud

Software Innovation, a leader in the Scandinavian market helping organizations control, manage, and share information and documents, has launched its first cloud application on Windows Azure. Public 360°, the company’s flagship product suite for standard case and document management, allows governments to make information about ongoing cases and correspondence available to the public through Internet publishing.

Running 360° Public Journal on Windows Azure is a first step in Software Innovation’s cloud strategy for improved user experience for citizens that will culminate in the launch of the Public 360° suite as an on-demand service on Windows Azure, planned for release in the first quarter of 2011.

“Governments worldwide have a common vision to deliver efficient, on-demand services for citizens and businesses that are available at any time and any place through the Internet,” said Halvor Walla, CEO at Software Innovation. “The cloud can revolutionize citizen services, and, as a company, we are committed to invest in Windows Azure as a development platform to further improve government services and user experience. 360° Public Journal on Windows Azure is a key landmark in that journey.”

Gecko Launches Cloud-Based Geoinformation Client

Gecko Information Systems AS, a Norway-based provider of portal, case and document management solutions tailored to the public sector, announced geoPort, a Web-based geoinformation client hosted though Windows Azure that enables both citizens and public servants to access public mapping services. Emerging infrastructure for sharing geographical information and data, especially within the public sector, requires lean, flexible, and elastic geographical information systems (GIS) viewers and clients. Through geoPort, citizens and employees will have user-friendly online access to public spatial services for publication, decision support and emergency-handling purposes.

“There has been a sharp rise in demand for sophisticated mapping services in the public sector. By providing citizens with a Web-based, low-threshold GIS client hosted in the cloud through Windows Azure, public bodies can provide simple and real-time access to existing spatial data both from internal and public sources — and in any combination of these,” said Brynjar Gevelt, CEO at Gecko Information Systems AS. “This is key in enhancing efficiency. In addition, having an intuitive user interface encourages the production, distribution and use of advanced thematic maps throughout the entire organization.”

Altinn Announces New Solution

The CSP has been designed to help governments and partners accelerate the modernization of government and to bring services and information to businesses and citizens anytime and anywhere. Altinn, the Norwegian central government collaboration platform and eGovernment portal developed by Microsoft and Accenture, is working to deliver this goal through the next generation of its platform for businesses and citizens to access public services. Altinn allows actors in the private sector to access public services and collaboration processes within and across government agencies through a single point of access, simplifying the interaction between government, businesses and citizens by providing an electronic channel for accessing information and allowing for written communications with the public sector.

Altinn’s new solution, Altinn II, will add more functionality, flexibility and increased privacy, as well as a simplified user experience for public sector employees. The new solution and concept also will include a coordinating function to optimize efficiency across organizations. By enhancing access to information, Altinn can help public authorities reduce processing time and costs.

“Altinn contains a portal solution for the public for services and information and contains a very comprehensive toolbox for providing electronic services,” said Erik Fossum, director general of the Brønnøysund Register Centre, a body under the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry working with Altinn. “By providing better access to information and simplifying the user interface, businesses and citizens can make even more use of the technology to fulfill their needs. There’s huge potential for gain by the whole public sector, as well as businesses and citizens in the future.”

Since its initial launch in 2008, the CSP has been adopted by local and regional governments around the globe, with success stories in many locations including Bergen, which was chosen to host the event May 19–20 and recognized last year by Microsoft for the city’s use of ICT to serve and engage citizens. The event will host more than 250 local and regional government elites, IT professionals, and executives to showcase their solutions and discuss the future of eGovernment services.

This year, seven global Microsoft customers were recognized by their use of ICT to serve and engage citizens. The individual awards have been an integral part of the event since 2008 as a traditional way of recognizing best practices in the use of ICT by government agency customers of Microsoft. In the past winners have been from Spain, the U.K., Canada and last year’s winner of the sustainability award was the city of Bergen for the “paperless government” project, which led to it co-hosting this year’s event at the city. Further information about the fourth Microsoft Worldwide Government Solutions Forum, including a list of sponsors, can be found online at http://www.governmentsolutionsforum.com.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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