Headlines: July 30th, 2002

Lewisham has begun showing off its attempt to encourage everyone to access its services online.The London Borough is part of a European project to test e-government projects which can be used by many countries facing similar challenges.

The Lewisham project is called AVANTI (Added Value Access to New Technologies and services on the Internet) and is a partnership between Lewisham, Fujitsu Consulting and Microsoft.

Using an Avatar or intelligent personal assistant that guides people through online transactions and services, AVANTI aims to overcome the barriers that prevent some people using information technology. By using the new technology residents will ultimately be able to access a wide range of local information and services using public access points with either a personal computer or a touch-screen kiosk.

Online services will initially include areas such as advice and information on council tax and housing benefits, and enhance local democracy through opinion polls and on-line consultation exercises.

AVANTI is a two-year project with three further European cities participating in the initiative – Stockholm in Sweden, Edinburgh in Scotland and Ventspils in Latvia.