Specific programme of research and technological development and demonstration in the area of telematic applications of common interest, 1994-1998
The specific programme in the area of Telematics is one of three elements of the Community's RTD effort in Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) under the Fourth Framework Programme. The other two programmes concern Information Technologies and Communications Technologies. Research activities under the telematics programme are closely coordinated with both these programmes.
The specific programme on telematics will contribute to the development of a European information infrastructure, upon which the future information society will be based. It will further promote research activities in support of the Community's other common policies (e.g. transport), in accordance with the specific provisions set out in the Treaty on European Union.
The programme's activities are based on the achievements and experience of the Third Framework Programme and of other Community initiatives relating to areas where telematic systems and services might be applied (such as, AIM, DRIVE, DELTA, ORA, ENS, LRE, TIDE, "Europe Against Aids", HELIOS, IMPACT and GIS).
The activities carried out in the field of telematics under the Third Framework Programme are redirected in three new ways to reflect the new priorities of Information and Communications Technologies in the Community. Firstly, the emphasis has shifted from data telematics to the new "multimedia telematics", which covers all distributed and interactive multimedia applications. Secondly, research will be more user-oriented and focused on market needs. Thirdly, particular attention is placed on finding cost-effective and affordable solutions.
In addition, the present specific programme supplements the largely empirical approach of the Third Framework Programme by backing this up with practical research on telematics engineering.
The general purpose of research carried out under the programme is to improve the effectiveness of telematics applications engineering and to ensure the interoperability of systems and telematics networks. This is to be achieved through nine vertical or sectoral activities which are supported by various horizontal activities and measures.
Attention must be paid to involving users in all phases of selected projects. Close links are to be established with public and private telecommunications network operators, service providers, and the electronics and computer industries. In addition, all RTD work carried out must anticipate, as fully as possible, the usage requirements of handicapped and elderly people, and ensure that the applications developed can be easily upgraded to meet their requirements.
International cooperation, including conferences, studies, visits and the demonstration of exploitable results, will be undertaken in most research areas whenever it is deemed useful. Great importance is attached to cooperation with the countries of east and central Europe and the independent states of the former Soviet Union, with a view to establishing links with telematic activities under the PHARE and TACIS programmes or with initiatives supported by the ERBD. In addition, there will be close coordinatoin and, where appropriate, collaboration, between the specific programme and similar national or pan-European RTD programmes (notably COST, EUREKA, ESA, CERN and EUROCONTROL).
Efforts are made to promote the exchange of researchers working on telematics applications and to encourage the networking of existing research centres. Some support is available for the training of users and to facilitate exchanges of know-how.
Specific measures aimed at stimulating technology use, based on feasibility grants, are included to encourage and facilitate the participation of SMEs in the programme's activities.
To develop and technically validate telematics systems and services that are interoperable throughout the European Union, satisfy user requirements and, maximize the use of generic infrastructures and equipment to them as economically viable as possible.
Five areas of activity:
- Telematics for services of public interest:
Research focuses on three areas of major economic, political and social importance and is based on previous Community activities, e.g. the ENS, AIM and DRIVE programmes:
. Administrations (Develop telematics applications facilitating the exchange of information between administrations, such as image transfer and video-conferencing. This is implemented under the TNA/IDA programme);
- Transport (Develop applications to improve the management of all modes of transport, in particular road, air and multimodal transport, whilst facilitating the safety and comfort of users);
- Telematics for Knowledge:
Research focuses on the development of new methods of access, sharing and up-dating of knowledge and is based on previous Community activities, e.g. the DELTA and LIBRARIES programmes:
. Telematics for research (RTD covering the use of large computer networks which require high-throughput communication services; development of distributed multimedia services to support cooperative research; methods for selecting, searching and presenting S&T information);
. Education and training (development of a new generation of multimedia distance teaching and group training services, via broad-band networks or satellites, which are adaptable to different user requirements; new techniques for personalized training and learning);
. Libraries (RTD concentrates on facilitating access to library resources and promoting the interconnection of libraries, both directly with other libraries and within the European infrastructure);
- Telematics for improving employment and the quality of life:
Telematic systems and services to improve employment and the quality of life by promoting better use of land, by raising the degree of autonomy of the less favoured social groups, such as the elderly and the handicapped, and by permitting more effective protection of the environment. Actions are based on previous Community activities, e.g. ORA, TIDE and HELIOS:
. Urban and rural areas (develop and validate applications such as teleworking or collective teleservices);
. Health care (multimedia medical records of patients; development of telematic applications aimed at increasing the resources available to the medical professions for diagnosis and treatment and improving health service management; telemedicine; and the development of telematic applications to support activities concerning the prevention of disease);
. Elderly and disabled people (improve access to existing telematic applications and the development of new information and communication technologies designed to restore functional capacities);
. Exploratory action: telematics for the environment (development of telematic alert and monitoring services);
. Other exploratory actions to assess the potential of telematic solutions in areas not covered by the programme;
- Horizontal RTD activities:
Activities requiring research in several of the fields covered by the programme:
. Telematics engineering (reconfiguration of organizations using telematics systems; and, the development of generic tools and methods for the integration of informatics and telecommunications equipment and services);
. Language engineering (integration of new oral and written language-processing methods and general linguistic research aimed at improving possibilities for communicating in European languages);
. Information engineering (RTD to promote easier access and greater user-friendliness of electronic information, in all its forms);
- Support actions:
Issues common to several areas of the programme:
. "Telematics watch" and consensus development;
. Dissemination of results and promotion of telematics;
. International cooperation;
. Training and exchange of experience.
The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the programme, assisted by a committee composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission. The Commission has drawn up an initial work programme, detailing the scientific and technological objectives of the action, the stages in the programme's implementation and the corresponding financial arrangements. The work programme may also provide for participation in certain activities within the EUREKA framework. Calls for proposals for RTD projects are issued by the Commission on the basis of the work programme.
The programme is mainly implemented through shared-cost actions, concerted actions, and accompanying and support measures. The financial contribution of the Community for shared-cost RTD projects does not exceed 50% of the total costs. Concerted actions may qualify for a contribution of up to 100% whilst, in principle, direct activities are fully financed by the Community.
As a rule, selected RTD projects should be executed in five phases:
- Identification of specific user needs;
- Definition of a set of functional specifications on the basis of these needs;
- Pre-normative and pre-competitive demonstration of specifications;
- Technical validation of demonstrations;
- Exploitation of successfully validated applications.
The budget allocated to the programme is divided between the five activities as follows: Telematics for services of public interest ECU 255 million; Telematics for knowledge ECU 146 million; Telematics for improving employment and the quality of life ECU 268 million; Horizontal RTD activities ECU 133 million; Support actions ECU 41 million (of which ECU 18 million is reserved for the dissemination and optimization of results and ECU 23 million for other preparatory, accompanying and supporting measures).
A sum equivalent to 9.8% of the overall programme budget is earmarked staff and administrative expenditure. In addition, the equivalent of up to 5% of the overall budgeis reserved for measures in respect of SMEs.
The budget allocated to the programme may be increased in 1996, in accordance with the provisions of the Decision establishing the Fourth Framework Programme.
The Commission is authorized to negotiate cooperation agreements with European third countries, with a view to their partial or full involvement in the programme's activities. The JRC may participate in the indirect actions covered by the programme.
The Commission will continuously monitor the implementation of the programme to ensure that its objectives, priorities and financial resources remain appropriate. On the basis of this review process it shall, where appropriate, submit proposals to adapt or supplement the programme. In addition, regular assessments of the activities covered by the specific programme are to be conducted by independent experts who, upon completion of the programme, will carry out a final evaluation of the results achieved compared to the initial objectives. A report of this final evaluation will be communicated to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee.