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Global e-government 30 October
Wednesday, October 30 2002
by Sylvia Leatham

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St. Louis law enforcement agencies cooperate for regional crime database | Oman to institute national ID program based on smart cards

The US government is compiling biometric data on terrorism suspects and using the information to track their movements, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Since January this year, military and intelligence operatives have been compiling digital dossiers of the irises, fingerprints, faces and voices of prisoners in Afghanistan and at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Officials say that biometric data is being shared with both the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service to help check the identities of foreigners entering the US and of foreigners who are arrested in the US. There are plans to extend the collection of biometric data to Iraq in the event of a US invasion.

Federal Computer Week reports that a regional crime database in St Louis looks set to become a highly effective crime-fighting tool. The Gateway Information Sharing Project, due to be fully functional by mid-December, is a database containing crime-investigation data from several law enforcement agencies that operate around St Louis in southern Illinois and eastern Missouri. Information from federal, state and local agencies will be available through the system, including FBI data, highway patrol incident records and reports from the sheriff's department. The US Justice Department says the FBI is sponsoring similar police information-sharing databases in San Diego, Seattle, Norfolk and Baltimore.

The information and communications technology (ICT) sector is set to enjoy a boom as the UK government moves to modernise public services and implement e-government strategies, according to KableNet.com. Spending on ICT is expected to increase 25 percent in 2003 to reach STG12.4 billion. Health will be a major growth area, with spending set to rise 84 percent with the introduction of projects such as electronic patient records. Other areas where spending is due to rise are criminal justice, Customs & Excise, the Department of Trade and Industry, Inland Revenue and Defence.

Government ministers in the UK have said that on-line voting pilot schemes in the 2004 local elections may not go ahead in full if the elections are combined with European Parliament elections. Nick Raynsford, the local government minister, and Yvette Cooper, the minister responsible for electoral reform, said they are considering whether to go ahead with the on-line voting trials following a decision to hold council, Greater London Assembly and European Parliament elections simultaneously. If combined local and European elections were to use on-line voting, additional legislation would be required.

Gemplus International, a specialist in the provision of smart card solutions, has been awarded a contract to deliver a national identification programme in Oman. Gemplus says the solution, expected to launch by the end of next year, is the first smart card-based identity solution ever implemented in the Middle East. Over 1.2 million smart cards will be deployed, initially enabling personal digital identification. Personal details will be stored on the cards, including name, address, digital photo ID and fingerprints. The cards will be used in driver's licence and border control applications and will eventually store citizens' emergency medical data.

Gulf-news.com reports that the Sudanese Consulate is setting up an in-house "cell" to encourage closer bilateral information and communications technology (ICT) exchanges. Al Zahawi Ibrahim Malik, Sudan's Minister of Information and Culture, said the initiative would help develop investment opportunities and further co-operation on ICT. The minister said plans are under way in Sudan to lay the infrastructure for e-government projects through co-operation with the government of Dubai and with other regional and international organisations.

The government of Brazil has declared its recent electronic election a success, according to KableNet.com. The presidential contest, which concluded on 27 October, was the country's first ever fully automated election, with an estimated 80 percent of the electorate using 406,000 electronic ballot boxes to cast their votes. The electronic ballot boxes, developed by Brazil's electoral tribunal in conjunction with IT experts from local universities and the armed forces, were designed to cater for those with literacy problems: voters registered their preferences numerically using a telephone-style keypad and made their choices against a candidate's photograph.



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