WASHINGTON — March 14, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today announced plans to formalize its global commitment to the partnerships for technology access (PTA) initiative, part of the company’s ongoing efforts to help governments and local industry build knowledge-based economies in underserved countries and regions. In her address to the 200 political, business and academic leaders from Canada, Latin America and the United States at the Microsoft® Government Leaders Forum (GLF) — Americas in Washington, D.C., today, Gerri Elliott, corporate vice president of Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft, highlighted the critical role that public-private partnerships can play to solve challenges faced by governments and their citizens around the world.
“Governments tell us they want to develop partnerships to help their citizens, local industries and communities accelerate social and economic development,” said Elliott. “Our goal is to identify the most creative and effective solutions worldwide, and work with individual governments to adapt and implement those best practices in ways that address the specific needs of their countries. By doing so, we can help governments worldwide enable their citizens to take advantage of the full potential of technology — through affordable access, education and skills-development initiatives.”
Elliott showcased a number of pioneering initiatives that are changing the way governments think about delivering services to citizens around the world. These deployments include a collaboration with global solution provider Voxiva to deliver a citizen security application for a township in Argentina, and continued uptake of the Microsoft Solutions Sharing Network (SSN).
Driving Affordable PC Purchasing Through Micro-Financing
Microsoft’s PTA is an innovative initiative drawing on the expertise of government, technology organizations and financial institutions. The partnerships are designed to put a PC purchase within reach of underserved citizens and small-business owners, through creative financing program anchored by existing in-country government programs. Each program is customized according to the specific government programs in place and the needs of the citizens in that country, making the program both affordable and relevant. Program trials have been run in several countries, including Egypt, Lebanon and Mexico. The results so far have been very encouraging, demonstrating market growth and synergy with governments’ economic development goals.
In Mexico, for instance, Microsoft is working collaboratively with hardware vendors; a local Internet service provider; local construction companies; and INFONAVIT, a government agency chartered with promoting home ownership among working Mexicans by facilitating access to credit for families that would otherwise not qualify for a home mortgage loan. Through the partnerships for technology access initiative, the Mexican government has extended its existing program to promote home ownership among modest-income workers to include a PC purchase. Eligible home buyers are presented with the option to acquire a PC when they purchase their new house, and the cost of the computer is amortized with the 25-year home loan.
“Our challenge is to provide not just a house, but to provide Mexican families with additional benefits, like access to technology,” said Victor M. Borras, general manager of INFONAVIT. INFONAVIT, together with Microsoft, plays an important role in the improvement of access to technologies to Mexican citizens, contributing to local growth and economic development.
Creating Partnerships That Deliver Better Government Services for Citizens
Emergency response is another important area where Microsoft technology is helping make government services more efficient and effective. Voxiva, a provider of ASP-hosted solutions for health and human services has partnered with Microsoft to deliver Voxiva CitizenNet™ to the citizens of Pergamino, Argentina, a city of 70,000 outside Buenos Aires. Voxiva CitizenNet enables the public not served by a traditional “911” emergency response system to report crimes or other incidents through any type of phone. Data is automatically captured by the system (phone number, address, time and date) directly from the caller (category of report, description of incident). Once an electronic incident report has been created, it is then filtered for routing and action. Critical emergencies receive immediate operator attention, while nonessential calls are managed according to their priority. Voxiva CitizenNet also provides real-time analytical tools that allow the authorities to develop crime and incident maps, monitor crime rates, and manage response times and success rates.
“Voxiva focuses on helping governments and local authorities implement high-value but cost-effective solutions that improve public safety and citizen participation,” said Justin Sims, CEO, Voxiva. “Pergamino’s adoption of Voxiva CitizenNet is our first deployment in Argentina. It will provide a great example to other municipalities here that are serious about reducing crime rates and improving responsiveness to public concerns.”
Partnering on Solutions That Deliver Better-Connected Government
Addressing the critical need for governments to adopt or modernize their connected government strategy, Microsoft showcased the Illinois Department of Central Management Services’ (CMS’) Knowledge Management solution as an example of how technology can increase efficiencies for government operations. CMS deployed a solution based on SSN that consolidates procurement resources from all agencies into one central location, leading to more intelligent public procurement and saving millions of taxpayers dollars.
“By launching our Knowledge Management platform, the state of Illinois has revolutionized its procurement process because our purchasing experts can better negotiate and reduce costs by making informed decisions,” said Paul Campbell, director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. “Knowledge Management could enhance procurement in government nationwide because it helps to deliver better contracts, stronger negotiating strategies and real-time pricing information that ultimately achieves the best value that taxpayers expect.”
Other customers seeing results from the SSN program are the University of Southern California, the Local Government Computer Services Board of Ireland and the National Association of Counties, all of which have worked with Microsoft to create efficiency in public service, increase their responsiveness, and cut down on the cost of their own regulations.
Microsoft’s connected government strategy is unique in that it brings together the functional infrastructure of government with a core technology infrastructure that enables governments to achieve the following:
Agile and responsive delivery of policy advice and service
Strengthened transparency and accountability
Enhanced ability to function effectively in a global context
Microsoft has published a new white paper (.doc file, 209 kb) that identify capabilities fundamental to government operation, highlighting the challenges governments will face in the next decade and describing how to enable seamless delivery of services across functions, agencies and jurisdictions. The paper is available at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/events/glfamericas.
The Microsoft Government Leaders Forum is a two-day event for government, industry and academia across the Americas to explore the use of information and communication technologies. The GLF provides a forum for government delegates to formulate successful strategies in key areas relating to connected government, digital learning, employability skills and the transition to the knowledge economy. Keynote speakers at this year’s event include Gerri Elliott, corporate vice president of Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft; Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates; the Honorable Madeleine K. Albright, former secretary of state, United States (1997-2001); Luis Alberto Moreno, president, Inter-American Development Bank; and the Honorable Bob Rae, Former Premier, Ontario, Canada.
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