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With an invitation to No10 this morning, I’m on my best behavior today. No jokes about transport and stress that my name has an “S” on the end, Moores, no relation to the other one. I'm tempted to ask whether Intel's new processor, Prescott, is named after the great man but even I'm struggling with the connection.

Yesterday I chaired the afternoon of the LondonOne Conference at the TUC Congress centre. LondonOne represented the first real coming together of agencies and minds to focus in on the interactive Digital Television (dTV) revolution and it was considerably cheered by the previous day’s cost-cutting news from British Telecom, which at last made broadband a viable proposition for the cash-strapped content providers and champions of public service digital TV.

Baroness Dean, chairman of the Housing Corporation, who you may remember as Brenda Dean of the print union, SOGAT, took the rather clinical sounding Broadband Britain slogan and changed it into the much more cuddly “Brenda Agenda”; encouraging everyone involved to find new and user friendly ways of delivering content and information to the people in society who need it most. Of course we have three different digital divides to worry over these days:

Those who don’t have Internet access at all
Those who have dial-up access
Those who have or can afford broadband

These Statistics of disadvantage were illustrated by my good friend, Bill Edwards, Director of Communication at The Office of the e-Envoy who closed the conference. While 43% of the population may be on-line in one form or another, another 47% aren’t, some 23 million people who live mostly in places like Scotland or Yorkshire, outside the warm embrace of the M25 where the Internet doesn’t seem quite so important to their lives.

Eight million digital Television boxes are now out in the country and the Government’s own awareness campaign, through UK-Online, generated the single largest response to an advertisement that Sky had ever seen, which must give a whole new slant to that well worn expression, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.

Digital Television (Public) services, driven by local and central government are now seen as one of the best mechanisms for delivering information and education to people who might normally fall through the net. In Sheffield, an NHS pilot project demonstrated that the people using Digital TV services through the NHS were markedly different from those who might use the Internet. Young mothers with children or older men from low income neighborhoods. So while many would criticize government’s efforts in using new technologies as little more than attractive political sound bites, the evidence suggests that the UK-Online vision, through 6,000 kiosks and now, digital television may actually start to produce the results that government had in mind for the programme.

However, I can't resist letting my cynical side escape. Prime Minister Clement Atlee once said that “If you open Pandora’s box, a Trojan horse jumps out”. I suspect that we can’t even imagine where all this enthusiasm for Open Government will take us and what services people will expect from the public sector in future. God forbid, it may even lead to freedom of information!


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