Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Advanced electronic information services for European parliaments

The Community's specific RTD programme in the area of Advanced Communications Technologies and Services (ACTS) is sponsoring a major trial of electronic services for Parliamentarians to be carried out in 1996-1997.

EPRI-Watch (European Parliaments Research Initiative-Watch) i...
The Community's specific RTD programme in the area of Advanced Communications Technologies and Services (ACTS) is sponsoring a major trial of electronic services for Parliamentarians to be carried out in 1996-1997.

EPRI-Watch (European Parliaments Research Initiative-Watch) is a three-year project, launched on 1 September 1995, which aims to link the political and scientific community by promoting two-way interaction between the ACTS community and politicians at regional, national and European levels.

The EPRI-Watch project brings together a partnership of technology developers and network service providers with a steering group of European Parliamentarians. The project will test and stimulate the use of advanced information retrieval, video-conferencing and telework services by Parliamentarians in the European Parliament and in a number of national and regional Parliaments. Links to Parliaments in the Baltic States and in Central and Eastern Europe are also foreseen.

The trials will focus on information relevant to the current debates on the "Information Society" and its social impact, and if successful, the information infrastructures and services will be able to support the full range of Parliamentary interests and business.

Information services will be provided to support policy makers in decisions relating to the development of the Information Society. In this framework the R&D projects and user trials in ACTS will constitute the major stimulus for the concrete and focused policy debate on Information Society issues. They provide an opportunity for the more than 2000 researchers involved in ACTS to confront their hypotheses with political actors and to evaluate jointly their application potential.

EPRI-Watch will allow politicians and technology developers to communicate with their colleagues and each other, both electronically and through workshops based on trial experiments of advanced services. These services will contain tools for location-independent work over different networks, including terrestrial, mobile (GSM) and satellite carriers.

The EPRI-Watch consortium consists of two workgroups: the content providers, acting as an interface to the European, national and regional political community; and the technical group that designs and integrates the services. The service operation during the trial phase is being accomplished jointly.

Since March 1996, the EPRI-Watch service has been available on the World Wide Web and, since June 1996, has become a service with dedicated users. Currently, the service has 150 users and the number is increasing every day. The on-line service consists of three areas:

- The Information Space;
- The Service Space;
- The Communication Space.

The Information Space contains information about Information Society legislation, research projects and initiatives at EU level, and related WWW links. The EPRI-Watch consortium is now working on "Common Fields of Interest" which will deal with specific Information Society matters such as teleworking, infrastructure and basic services, telemedicine, etc.

The Service Space offers useful tools including direct access to WWW sites, on-line newspapers, search tools, and a glossary.

The Communication Space currently allows for e-mail and file transfer. By the end of the year, more communication tools (internet phone, video-conferencing, joint editing and fax) will also be available.

The reactions received so far have shown that there is great interest in EPRI-Watch as an information service and communication tool providing support to policy makers in decisions relating to the development of the Information Society.

Source: EPRI-Watch Office
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