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An Illustrative project
The convergence of digital technologies now makes it possible for anyone away from his office to have instant access to up-to-the-minute information. Thus the Promise project, supported by the EU's Telematics Applications programme, and directed by the Finnish company, Nokia, has led to the development of a portable terminal combining mobile telephony and PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) technology. The system is designed to provide users with a full range of transport-related information: parking availability, traffic jams, recommended routes, public transport, and so on. Six towns in Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Germany have hosted tests for this innovation, in conjunction with several major European telecommunications firms, car manufacturers and GIS (geographical information system) providers. The Promise service should be appearing on the market very soon.
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Implications for society
Information and communications technologies decisively influence the way democratic society is organised. Not only do these technologies stimulate public debate by renewing dialogue between citizens and the worlds of administration and politics but, in a wide variety of domains such as health, education, culture, social services, the needs of elderly and handicapped people, the environment, transportation and leisure, they offer new services that can impart new dynamism to social relations.
Implications for the economy
Establishing these new services which are made available to a broad public also constitutes an important new area for adding economic value and creating jobs. Conceiving and managing these products and the interactive tasks they involve is a rapidly developing sector.
Implications for Europe
In an ever growing number of fields, the building of Europe is homogenising the framework of citizens' lives by means of the socio-economic, environmental and political regulations developed at a European level, which are then incorporated into the laws of individual Member States. This fact alone makes it important for the inhabitants of the European Union to enjoy user-friendly access to the progress being made in well-being and democracy. These new technologies stimulate exchanges and access to knowledge while also constituting a tool capable of strengthening a European identity.
Targeted fields of research
- Health - Intelligent, trauma-free diagnosis and treatment systems, advanced medical imaging, secure high capacity networks and applications linking hospitals, electronic hospital files, follow-up and preventive medicine systems, telemedicine, etc.;
- Responses to the specific needs of groups such as the elderly and the disabled - Improvement of man-machine interfaces, care systems to enable people to live in their own homes, etc.;
- Public administrations - Interactive multimedia systems and services facilitating the transparency and accessibility of the different types of administration, improving data exchange between the latter, on-line democracy, etc.;
- Environment - Surveillance, data collection, early warning and decision support systems and services; risk and emergency management, etc.;
- Transport and tourism - Intelligent data communications systems applied to different kinds of transport; on-board systems (safety, information), etc.