Headlines: November 7th, 2002

The Office of the e-Envoy is probing the potential of digital TV to deliver public services and wants to hear how others see the potential. Some 38% of households already have digital TV and this figure is expected to rise to 60-70% by 2005. The thinking of the Office is set out in a consultation paper which describes the convergence of the worlds of information technology and TV.DTV is seen as a means to reach the whole population, giving people a new way of accessing government services which could be delivered to citizens in the comfort of their homes. It offers the potential to respond to social needs and help bridge the digital divide because it would reach groups who would not use a PC to access the internet. By using UK Online interactive, the citizens portal launched in April 2002, there is scope for improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness in service delivery.

The vision set out in the consultation paper includes such features as alerting people to crises, such as broadcasting flood warnings and supplying access to supporting information and services. Another possibility is to provide interactive public information broadcasts on subjects such as crime prevention. In this example, links could be provided to more detailed information, such as advice on how to secure the home or local crime statistics, and there could be the opportunity to participate in community discussions.

The use of DTV is being pioneered in a number of areas. The Department of Health, Department for Education and Skills and Department of Work and Pensions are working on a number of innovative digital television pilots to trial and better understand how the medium can be used for best effect in the delivery of e-government services. In Local Government, a number of councils such as Suffolk, Somerset, Kirklees, Knowsley and Newcastle are currently undertaking cutting edge DTV.

Responses to the consultation paper are invited by the end of January 2003.

Link: http://www.e-envoy.gov.uk/oee/oee.nsf/sections/consultations-dtv/$file/d tv-policy-framework-Oct2002.pdf