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DIGITAL CITIES: A network for rapid and sustainable ICT regional adoption (DC)
Start date: Sep 30, 2008, End date: Sep 29, 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The main objective of the Digital Cities (DC) project is to tackle the very low rate of ICT (Information Communication Technologies) penetration at local level by providing the organizational structures, strategies/policies and tools (called altogether DC model) for enabling the rapid and sustainable adoption of ICT at local level and the development of digital cities in a broad European level. The general objectives of the DC project include the development and evaluation of the DC Model and the establishment of an open, sustainable cooperation/coordination Network for sharing knowledge, exchanging best practices/experiences and developing synergies among local authorities. The final outcome of the project is aimed to be a new organizational structure that will manage and evolve the project results, making them widely available through information services and providing consultation and training programs, all through a feasible and viable business model.The initiating point is a varietyof best practices identified within a number of cities and organisations involved within the Consortium. The starting discussions have been made within the INEC community (International Network of E-Communities). The core group of partners have been selected from INEC and then the consortium expanded to include regions of low ICT adoption that have shown potentials for development and are geographically spread around Europe. The main activities envisaged are the development of a DC holistic framework based on ICT trends that will come out of a joint study. For the regions involved the constraints to be taken into consideration will be highlighted. The project will select 6 practices amongst the most progressed partners for which best transfer specific guidelines will be drawn. The project will intitiate training sessions and study visits focusing on these practices. A series of thematic Workshops and an International Conference will be established.The project will emphasise on communication and dissemination activities though its website, thematic Forums, newsletters, press conferences and press releases. A knowledge portal that will incorporate all project generated knowledge and which will provide easy guidelines for local or regional authorities to adopt the DC framework will be created and crash-tested in pilots. DC will emphasise on policy guidelines that will be communicated in regulatory bodies. For the project sustainability a business plan will be created and business models will be applied. The major result of the project will be a model (organisational, structural, administrative, strategic) that will allow the increase in local ICT adoption. This will be illustrated through the transfer of 6 winning practices through a training/communication/brainstorming process. The project expects to grow and provide space for experience sharing amongst European local and regional authorities. Achievements: The Digital Cities project team have been hard at work collecting best practices, trends and learning in public eServices and ICT adoption. Working with seven partners across Europe, some from technologically mature and some from technologically emerging environments, we have been getting hands on with these best practices. Colleagues from Brasov, Romania and Jesenik, Czech Republic visited the Fibre Pilot and @ppointment (eHealth) application in Almere, Netherlands. Colleagues from Xanthi, Greece had the opportunity to find out more from e-Trikala's experience in developing ICT services for the citizens and to learn more about e-Health application. 'It was a fantastic oppotunity to see for ourselves, what other partners are doing and learn about some of the challenges and benefits first hand. It also gives an opportunity to meet face-to-face, much better than just emails' said Daniela Moasa, Foriegn Affairs Officer, Brasov. These study visits provided an ideal opportunity for colleagues to share knowledge and information, whilst providing the project leads with vital information about knowledge gaps and needs within the project. Building on the experiences and feedback from Almere and other parallel study visits, we have been able to benchmark a range of best practice models and services to be included into the Digital Cities project. Taking into account project partners needs, we have identified six best practices for transfer between the partners. To ensure these are successfully embedded and partners are able to benefit from them in their own work, we will also be running a series of thematic workshops and training sessions throughout the year. Additionally, Digital Cities is taking all the information supplied by partners to develop an extensive range of resources for others to use. Information on how to initiate fibre initiatives, developing digital communities and successfully integrating online with customer facing services will also be available through the Digital Cities Portal. The Digital Cities Portal will be an online resource bank, which regional and local authority leaders can use to plan cities of the future. The Digital Cities Portal will allow the end-user to cluster and retrieve knowledge and information on digital best practices on a range of subjects and topics relating to public eServices. The project team have developed a technical blueprint for the portal, which includes details on the functionality, search parameters and data storage. A beta version of the technical solution has been demonstrated for user testing and contextual searches. We aim to ensure synergy across the entire project as the project evolves.
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