"German supplier of banking software wants to contact companies all over Europe in order to cooperate in developing telework applications" "Italian hospital would like to take part in worldwide telemedicine field trials" "Finnish mayor looks for counterparts from all over Europe to work on the development of telematic solutions for local governments" "Greek software house in the field of telecommunications invites companies to a conference on marketing issues" Hardly a day goes by without the announcement of a strategic alliance between firms operating in the converging fields of information and communications technologies. As public interest in a "wired society" and "information superhighways" is increasingly aroused, the technical, regulatory and marketing challenges raised by the deployment of information networks, services and applications are becoming more visible. Against this background, the Information Society Project Office initiative, part of the Commission's action plan on Europe's move towards the information society (see IP/94/683 of 16.7.1994) is a concrete measure conceived to support, promote and orient private and public actions in the field of the information society. ISPO's main interlocutors will be: - Entrepreneurs in SMEs; - Local and national public administrations; - Information technology manufacturers; - Content providers in the information business; - Universities and other research bodies; - Innovators; - User groups and associations. ISPO's main objectives will be: - To help industry and users contact the Commission and make optimal use of the existing instruments and resources; - To act as a broker in information and ideas for interested parties; - To create awareness of the potential impact of the information society; - To address information society issues by providing a forum for the pooling of relevant solutions; - To facilitate the launching of international cooperation actions. "Europeans can expect new job opportunities, new services and new markets to develop in the wake of the information society", Mr. Martin Bangemann declared. "ISPO's mission is to help all interested parties benefit by offering a new source of assistance and orientation, and a new market-place of ideas." ISPO's five key functions are: 1. A user-friendly interface: Aim: To help industry and users (e.g. local authorities, associations) contact the Commission and make optimal use of the Union's existing instruments and resources. Tasks: - Handling information requests coming from the participants, the media and the public; - Dispatching the requests to the relevant services and ensuring that the answers are returned in time; - Making information available on the Union's instruments; 2. A catalytic brokerage action: Aim: To act as a go-between and a broker of ideas, experience and expertise. Tasks: - Encouraging with the help of Commission services the creation of partnerships among interested organizations and individuals; - Helping with the diffusion of calls for ideas and projects launched within the framework of information and communication technology RTD programs. 3. Awareness raising promotion: Aim: To help create and increase awareness of the advantages and potential impact of the information society and its new applications, to publicize ISPO- supported actions and to act as an information clearing house. Tasks: - Helping, where necessary, other Commission services to organize awareness and information campaigns across the EU and keeping relevant participants and the public informed of recent initiatives; - Producing comprehensive reviews and summaries of relevant studies and articles on the information society on a regular basis, and distributing them in the form of a magazine/newsletter; - Ensuring the Commission projects a consistent image through model speeches, participation at conferences, etc. 4. Demonstrations sharing experience and highlighting best practice: Aim: To contribute to the learning process among relevant participants and facilitate the acceptance and adoption of information society-related applications and solutions by encouraging the demonstration of efficient implementation techniques and strategies. Tasks: - Setting up workshops and demonstrations on advanced applications, in close cooperation with Commission services and organizations in the Member States and regions; - Disseminating concise reports on advanced applications, highlighting problems, solutions and best practice. 5. Promoting cooperation with an international dimension: Aim: To act, where necessary, as a link between potential participants from the private sector and the Commission services responsible for international cooperation. Tasks: - Building up a working knowledge of applications on information society issues launched in non-EU States; - Contributing to European Union partners' awareness of the potential for international cooperation.