Research work carried out under the IST Programme in the area of 'Systems and Services for the Citizen' - Key Action 1 - is built around 12 clusters of projects in specific technical areas. These clusters are a logical grouping of projects co-operating together for their mutual benefit.
In the information society, the role of government and public administration is multi-faceted - functioning as both a consumer and supplier of goods and services, which drives economies and serves society.
In this context, the goal of the Administrations Area of IST Key Action 1 is to:
"Realise by 2010 the goal of an 'Integrated European Government' enabling administrations, citizens, businesses, suppliers and other public sector bodies to seamlessly come together and interact in real time through a ubiquitous infrastructure that promotes trust and confidence."
This goal or vision can be applied to the activities in the Administrations Unit via four guiding principles:
All the projects funded and managed by the Administrations Unit are grouped into two Clusters: Smart Government and eDemocracy.
The projects in this cluster help administrations to better serve the public using the latest technologies, strategies and practices to improve the services offered - making them more efficient, flexible, affordable and easy to use. The real challenge facing governments - local, regional, national and supranational - is to assimilate the relevant technical, economic, legal and social aspects into a workable 'organisational structure' that supplements and, eventually, replaces the current generation of information services. Projects within this cluster help administrations to critically analyse their processes, and apply this knowledge to developing and delivering services based on the needs of citizens. In practice, the projects help public administrations to react to market forces, eventually eliminating redundant services and improving the overall effectiveness and quality of the service being offered.
Research projects in this cluster cover a variety of activities and technologies; from international messaging between government departments through to the development of government portals geared toward Europe's citizens.
The cluster has been divided into three sub-clusters:
Within these sub-groups, an array of technologies are being developed, including smart cards, 3-D imaging, electronic signature, secure e-document transmission, user authentication, intelligent user interfaces, WAP, XML, data security and web technologies.
This cluster focuses on broadening public debate through online technology. The relevant IST and RTD projects evaluate the impact of the internet on the nature of democracy by addressing the following issues:
The cluster stimulates co-operation and synergies among all IST projects contributing to democracy related matters and community participation. For example, research within the cluster works toward achieving more transparent public policies, information, and voting methods, and providing means for better interaction between the populace and elected representatives, leading to greater administrative efficiency and a reduction in related costs.
The cluster is divided into three sub-clusters:
The key technological areas addressed are: reliable, scalable software and web applications, and - to improve data authentication and security as well as e-voting methods - the possible use of biometrics, smart cards and language/data processing tools should not be ruled out.