The European Commission, DG XIII, has recently published a report on "Information Society Applications of General Interest: Needs and Options for Future Research". The report is based on the work of the "Strategic Requirements Group", which was established in February 1996 to identify needs and options for future research and technological development work, particularly in the context of the planned Fifth Framework Programme. The group was composed of both external experts and Commission staff. Individual sectoral reports have also been published, which describe in more detail the possible directions for research activity in each field. The report has been published on the basis of research in this area which aimed to examine the rapid innovations in information technology which are starting to affect services of general interest, such as health or education. These innovations not only play a key role for the future growth and competitiveness of the EU, but also for the visibility and acceptance of the Information Society. The report describes major trends and issues in information technologies in the following sectors, all of which are relevant to providing general interest services: - Health; - Disability and ageing; - Environment; - Transport; - Education and training; - Administrations and smart communities. The report also outlines the main technologies that will form the basis of development, and identifies technological options and priorities. It is divided into the following three sections: - General interest services in the Information Society: New challenges and opportunities; - Towards a European strategy for the development of general interest services in the Information Society; - Priorities in the development, demonstration and take-up of general interest services.