Canada: e-Gov Bulletin - October 2004

Last Updated: October 22 2004

Edited by E. Michael Power


  • Canada: Federal Government Funds Geomatics Projects to Improve Decision Making
  • Florida: Confidential Child Records Found Online
  • Newfoundland: Motor Vehicle Registration Glitch
  • P.E.I.: Summerside Puts Portal on Map
  • Saskatchewan: Online Service Options Popular With Public
  • Switzerland Tests Virtual Democracy in National Referendum
  • U.K.: Britain Slips Down Global eGovernment League Table
  • U.K.: Key Role for IT in Child Reforms
  • U.K.: Microsoft Opens Office for Governments
  • U.S.: Best City and County Government Web Sites Named
  • U.S.: Data Mining Software is "Must Have" for Intelligence Agencies

Canada: Federal Government Funds Geomatics Projects To Improve Decision Making

Twenty-nine projects will receive Government of Canada funding to help Canadians access and input geographical information through the Internet.

Several projects are developing online applications to enable stakeholders in local watersheds to input, view and analyse geospatial information on water resources and quality. Another will provide all Saskatchewan government departments and agencies with Web access to the province's cadastral, or property, data. Industry and the public will be able to access the information through the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI).

Government of Canada funding for the projects comes from GeoConnections, a national partnership initiative led by NRCan, that is making Canada's geospatial databases, applications and services readily available online. The Government's $3.35-million contribution to these projects has resulted in an additional investment of almost $4.5 million from other partners.

Full press release available at:

Further information on GeoConnections and the CGDI is available at:

Florida: Confidential Child Records Found Online

In another black eye for Florida's child-welfare agency, officials acknowledged that confidential records for nearly 4,000 abused and neglected children were available on the Internet until the end of September.

The files included the names of foster children, birth dates, Social Security numbers, photographs and case histories. They even provided directions and maps to children's foster homes. The Department of Children & Families had the Web site shut down Wednesday after being alerted by the Miami Herald.

The confidential information was available because computer help desk officials allowed all support requests to be viewed online, without passwords. Many of the requests came from caseworkers who had trouble gaining access to HomeSafenet. Some of the replies included user names and passwords to access the confidential files.

Full press report available at:

Newfoundland: Motor Vehicle Registration Glitch

The Motor Registration Division of the Department of Government Services wishes to notify its customers that a computer glitch has resulted in two notices of renewals being mailed for vehicle registrations due to expire in October.

All 25,200 customers with vehicle registrations due to expire next month are getting two notices in the mail. The glitch occurred with government's IT service provider which issues the renewal notices each month on behalf of the Motor Registration Division. Customers are asked to disregard the second notice.

The company contracted to provide government's IT services inadvertently printed and mailed the renewal applications twice. The costs associated with this computer error will be paid by the company at no charge to government.

The Motor Registration Division apologizes for any inconvenience. Full press release available at:

P.E.I.: Summerside Puts Portal On The Map

The City of Summerside in P.E.I. has unveiled a Web-mapping application to enhance the region's economic development initiatives by providing the public, developers and businesses with better access to property and real estate data.

Using geographic-information consulting and support services from GeoNet Technologies in Central Bedeque, P.E.I., the city selected the Spatial Fusion software from Caris in Fredericton, N.B., to equip its portal with Web-mapping functionality. The tool brings together various repositories of information by combining property, demographic and business data. The information, accessible via a browser-based environment, is presented through interactive maps complete with site-search capability.

Full press report available at:

Saskatchewan: Online Service Options Popular With Public

An increasing number of people are turning to the Internet to access Saskatchewan Government services and information.

Since its launch in August 2000, more than nine million people have accessed information and services available through the Government of Saskatchewan central Web portal. In the past year nearly three million users accessed the portal, an increase of more than 92 per cent from its first year of operation. In addition, government employees have responded to nearly 19,000 public requests for services and information received through email contact forms located on the central Web portal.

In addition to the central Web portal, a number of other major online services available on various government department, agency and Crown corporation Web sites are also proving to be popular with the public:

  • more than 27,000 provincial tax transactions and nearly 15,000 farm fuel rebate transactions have been submitted through Saskatchewan Finance's online "Saskatchewan Electronic Tax Service" (SETS) since the service was launched in September 2001;
  • more than 600,000 users have visited the Queen's Printer "Freelaw" online legislation Web site since its launch in October 2001;
  • more than 3,400 people have made change of address requests since the launch in June 2003 of "ExpressAddress," a partnership service offered by SaskEnergy, SaskPower, SaskTel, SGI, the City of Regina and City of Saskatoon;
  • more than 5,700 payments have been made through Saskatchewan Justice's online fine payment service since its launch in April 2003; And
  • more than 37,000 people applied online in the past eighteen months for the province's big game draw, while more than 700 purchased hunting licences and more than 500 bought fishing licences through Saskatchewan Environment's Web site.

Full press release available at:

Switzerland Tests Virtual Democracy In National Referendum

On September 26, Swiss authorities hailed as a success what they said was the world's first binding Internet vote in a national referendum. Some 2,723 people in four Geneva suburbs—around 22 per cent of voters in the region who participated in the referendum—cast their ballots online on issues including naturalization laws, maternity leave and postal reform.

It took officials 13 minutes and five seconds to count the contents of the "virtual ballot box," cantonal (state) officials said. Swiss authorities decided to organize the Internet vote following a string of successful local online polls in Geneva and other cities.

Authorities say the hands-on experiment in virtual democracy could lead to e-voting becoming a third option for all voters in the Alpine country within several years, even if it is unlikely ever to replace the other methods entirely.

Full press report available at:

U.K.: Britain Slips Down Global Egovernment League Table

The Center for Public Policy at Brown University has published its fourth annual global survey of government online activity. The research, covering 198 countries, finds that the U.K.'s performance, based on a sample of government Web sites, has fallen below that of Iraq and Togo. This year the U.K fell seven places to 14th position in the global league table, while Iraq jumped a massive 175 places to be ranked 10th in the world. Taiwan took first place, with Singapore, the United States, Canada and Monaco making up the rest of the top five. Overall the report indicates that governments are making steady progress towards improving their eGovernment services, but the rate of change has slowed. Only 14 per cent displayed a privacy policy (up from 12 per cent in 2003) and similarly, security policies were only found on one in 12 Web sites, a twopoint increase over the previous year. The study was based on an evaluation of a broad range of government sites. Using 24 measures that included disability access, privacy, security, availability of publications and the number of online services, between June and August 2004.

To download the full report, go to:

Full press release available at:

U.K.: Key Role For It In Child Reforms

A new 10-year U.K. Government strategy is paving the way for a fresh look at how technology could be used to deliver health and social care messages to children and adolescents in new and innovative ways. The Department of Health has released its new National Service Framework (NSF) for children, young people and maternity services. The NSF, heralded as a "world first," advocates a shift towards providing health and social services based around their needs. One example of this, the Department suggested, could be the use of text messaging services and computer games to remind and teach children about taking medicines. Healthcare trusts and local government social and education services will have standards set out in the NSF by 2014.

Full details on the National Service Framework available at:

Full press release available at:

U.K.: Microsoft Opens Office For Governments

Microsoft has announced that it will offer government bodies unprecedented access to the hitherto secret source code behind its flagship Office 2003 software suite. The landmark agreement is an expansion of Microsoft's "Government Security Program" (GSP), an initiative launched in January 2003 as a way of helping governments to improve information security. The U.K. Government has been the first to sign up for the program, the U.S. software giant said. Through the GSP, the U.K. Government is licensed to inspect the proprietary source code for Microsoft's Windows operating system. This will now be extended to include the Office 2003 products, which include the Outlook email software, Word, Excel and Powerpoint applications, plus shared applications such as draw and search. Microsoft will also provide other assistance such as technical documentation and access to the company's technicians.

Details about Microsoft's GSP can be found here:

Full press report is available at:

U.S.: Best City And County Government Web Sites Named

The nation's most innovative and robust city and county government Web sites have been named by the Center for Digital Government in its 2004 Best of the Web contest, an annual competition attracting hundreds of entries each year.

Capturing first place in the city portal category is Fort Collins, Colo. followed by Phoenix, Ariz., New York City, Chicago and New Orleans— fourth-place tie, and Dallas.

The top-five winners in the county portal category are Miami-Dade County, Fla., Santa Clara County, Calif., Fulton County, Ga., King County, Wash., and San Diego County, Calif.

In its ninth year, the Best of the Web grades state, city, county and education Web sites on innovation, Web-based delivery of public services, efficiency, economy, and functionality for improved citizen access. Results from the state portal category were released last week. The state Digital Government Achievement Awards and education winners will be announced next week.

Full press release available at:

U.S.: Data Mining Software Is "Must Have" For Intelligence Agencies

Data mining can be defined as applying advanced analytical techniques to large databases to extract hidden information, said Lee Holcomb, DHS' chief technology officer. Specialists agree that the technology cannot be used to predict future events, but advanced analytical tools can help find relationships in vast quantities of data. And in the criminal and terrorism fields, massive amounts of information from public and classified sources and sensor systems flow daily into Homeland Security, Justice and Defense department databases.

Federal executives overseeing investigations increasingly seek tools that can be calibrated to the level of expertise of individual analysts, whether they are novices, experts or somewhere in between. Different types of tools serve different purposes, and some apply only to extremely narrow functions, Holcomb said.

As agencies increase and improve their use of data mining, they face questions about the practice's impact on privacy. There are already 10 federal laws that set parameters on government data handling for privacy reasons. Even so, lawmakers continue to voice concerns that the government's data-mining work might tread on citizens' rights. Full press report available at:

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