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Information and Communications Technologies under the Fourth Framework Programme

On 10 March 1994, the Commission released an outline of the specific programmes within the Fourth Framework Programme. This includes an overview of the aims and objectives of RTD to be undertaken in the field of information and communications technologies. RTD in this sector ...

On 10 March 1994, the Commission released an outline of the specific programmes within the Fourth Framework Programme. This includes an overview of the aims and objectives of RTD to be undertaken in the field of information and communications technologies. RTD in this sector aims to provide the European Union with an efficient infrastructure which will form a basis for the information society of the future: 1) Telematics: This area offers a relatively new market with strong growth potential, within which RTD actions may contribute to employment. In contrast with the Third Framework Programme, priority will be given to "multimedia telematics" and to user needs (particularly the needs of aged or handicapped persons). The TELEMATICS programme will support RTD activities related to the following three themes: - "Telematics services in the public interest" (administrations, health care, transport), where research comprising 50% of the overall budget for the programme will focus on the exchange of information between administrations, "telemedicine", multimedia medical dossiers and transport control systems; - "Telematics for knowledge" (researchers, libraries, education and distance learning), in order to permit actors in these areas to consult and to share and modify various categories of information; - "Telematics for employment and the improvement of living conditions" (the socially disadvantaged, urban and rural areas, environmental protection), where activities will centre on the implementation of audio-visual aids and interfaces permitting aged or handicapped persons to participate fully in economic and social life, on the development of teleworking and teleservices as well as environmental surveillance and warning systems. Research will be undertaken to facilitate access to databases and improve spoken and written language recognition as well as the presentation of information. Accompanying actions will include the dissemination of results, telematics promotion activities, international initiatives (conferences and studies) and training actions. 2) Communications Technologies: The development of advanced communications systems and services contributes to the emergence of an "intelligent Europe". RTD in this area, aiming at the convergence of telecommunications, TV and media, is an essential support for the development of trans-European networks and services. These activities are vital not only for economic activities but also for social cohesion and cultural development. Six themes are included: - "Interactive numeric multimedia services", where research will seek to develop systems and services combining sound, images and numerical data; - "Optical technologies", aiming to establish fully optical networks in the period up to the year 2,000; - "Implementation of high-speed networks", to make use of efficient, integrated networks in order to develop services such as videophone, teleworking and social aid; - "Personal communications mobility and networks", to offer the public a new generation of flexible and secure wireless transmission systems; - "Intelligent networks and engineering", which aims to implement intelligent communications systems which will permit the users themselves to stimulate the evolution of the services on offer; - "Quality and security of telecommunications systems and services", in order to ensure the integrity and security of transmitted data (particularly by use of the "electronic signature" concept). The socio-economic consequences of advanced telecommunications and the impact on the environment of the relationship between transport and telecommunications will be taken into consideration. International cooperative activities plus actions for the dissemination of results are also planned. 3) Information Technologies: The "information society" and "telematics-based industry" are being established. Forming a part of most areas of human activity, information technologies (IT) contribute to improving the quality of life and the competitivity of European enterprises. Nevertheless, major RTD and transnational cooperation efforts are still required. The IT programme is focused on user needs and on the market, rather than on "technology push". To this end, three research themes are identified: - "Software technologies", with the aim of providing the EU with strong software production capabilities by supporting research into new programming methods, the development of intelligent systems, etc.; - "Technologies for IT components and sub-systems", where research in components (semiconducters, integrated microsystems, peripherals, flat screens, etc.) will permit developments in computer technology to be anticipated; - "Multimedia technologies", which seeks to develop the necessary technologies to create, manipulate and stock multimedia data (image compression, optical storage, software, etc.). In the IT area, "networks of excellence" will be set up to support long-term research efforts. Groupings of targeted activities will be established, bringing together different actions around four well-defined objectives: Open microprocessors systems; integrated manufacturing; high performance calculation and networks; technologies for commercial operations; and, integrated production.

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