Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Students as Scholar not Customers

Professor Paul RamsdenGreetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Professor Paul Ramsden, Chief Executive of the UK Higher Education Academy, is discussing changes to the way universities plan courses and reward teaching staff. Professor Ramsden's paper "The Future of Higher Education - Teaching and the Student Experience" is available online, along with appendices and bibliography. He will give another talk tomorrow.

Much of what Professor Ramsden discusses is applicable to Australia. Professor Ramsden commented that the Australian response to the Bradley Report was more radical than its UK equivalent. He asserted that students need to feel part of a community of scholars, rather than just customers of service delivery. He went on to show a graph from the Bradley Review which showed that Australian students were much less satisfied with what they get from education than UK students. This is worrying particularly where Australian universities are relying on international students who can choose to go to another country.

Professor Ramsden asserted that a revolution in education was needed. One area for improvement was better description of course and more relevant assessment. Traditional descriptions of degrees are of little value, as are transcripts. He propose a higher education achievement report. None of this seems new or radical to me after having to prepare a golbally accredited professional course for the ACS which is described in terms of a standard set of skills for the profession.

Professor Ramsden pointed out that for many years teaching was seen as important but little had been done about it. However, apart from saying this was worrying, he did not appear to have any solutions to propose.

Professor Ramsden described overspecialisation in curriculum as a "disease". He called for more cross disciplinary work. He also argued for an international perspective. This seems like a solved problem to me, as I have international students in my Green ICT course. Some of these students are in Australia, others online around the world.

Professor Ramsden said that UK students have the expectation unviersity will be like school, with a spoon-fed program with lots of staff contact, whereas they should expect to learn to read and research themselves. He commented that he was worried by Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), which may reduce the scope for student input into courses.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

More future of higher education in the UK and Australia

Professor Paul RamsdenProfessor Paul Ramsden, Chief Executive of the UK Higher Education Academy, will discuss changes to the way universities plan courses and reward teaching staff at the Australian National University, 2.30pm, Wednesday, 2 December 2009 in Lecture Theatre 1, HW Arndt Building (RSVP: Deborah Veness). This is in addition to the previously scheduled talk, 3 December 2009.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Future of higher education in the UK and Australia

Professor Paul RamsdenProfessor Paul Ramsden, Chief Executive of the UK Higher Education Academy, will discuss changes to the way universities plan courses and reward teaching staff at the Australian National University, 3 December 2009.

Professor Ramsden's paper "The Future of Higher Education - Teaching and the Student Experience" is available online, along with appendices and bibliography.

Much of what Professor Ramsden discusses is applicable to Australia. He advocates reforming curriculum and assessment with new models of curriculum, interdisciplinary study, flexible transfer between part-time and full-time modes, and global perspectives. I have been doing some of this in the Green ICT course run for ACS and ANU. This is available for ICT and other professionals, with full and part time students from around the world in the same class.
ANU Teaching Forum


The Future of Higher Education - Teaching and the Student Experience

Professor Paul Ramsden
Chief Executive, The Higher Education Academy, UK

Thursday 3 December, 1-2pm
The Tank, Haydon Allen Lecture Theatre, Building 23, ANU, Canberra

A light lunch will be served preceding the lecture from 12pm, Seminar from 1pm.

Please email RSVP to: by Friday 27 November and include any dietary requirements for lunch

To be introduced by Professor Lawrence Cram, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President of The Australian National University

This talk is based on Professor Paul Ramsden's contribution to the forthcoming framework for higher education in England. It will examine the quality of teaching and learning in UK higher education in the light of recent critical comment in the media and parliament, and consider the kinds of experiences that will enable graduates in the UK and Australia to contribute to the world of the future. He will identify some key drivers in the process, including recognition of teaching, curriculum change, and the need for a different relationship between students and universities.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

UK Government VPN

The UK Cabinet Office is building a Virtual Private Network called the "Public Sector Network" for national and local government agencies to use for voice and data. This is intended to save money and set technical and service standards. The network will be built from existing commercial infrastructure. There are a set of detailed planning and specification documents. The AGIMO strategy is for a less ambitious network for the Australian Government.
The Public Sector Network vision

1.1.1 The Public Sector Network (PSN) vision one of creating ‘the effect of a single network across UK government’, delivered through multiple service providers in order to ensure ongoing value and innovation.
1.1.2 In some respects, this is similar to the Internet model, whereby ‘service consumers’ experience flexibility and inter-working without much concern for underlying inter-network ‘plumbing’. However, the vision is also one of a ‘private network of networks’ for the public sector, addressing the various special security, resilience, service and availability needs of public sector organisations.

The PSN in practical terms

1.1.3 The PSN is a supply-side ‘network of networks’, making network-oriented services utilitylike for the public sector. Hence, it is essentially an inter-working and standards framework for the suppliers of network-oriented services to the public sector, governing both interconnection of supplier services and the relevant key service characteristics/attributes that ensure inter-working and end-to-end service assurance across supplier portfolios. As such, it includes:

  • an overarching PSN Operating Model and governance approach – including a Code of Interconnection (CoICo) and Code of Practice (CoP) for service providers, and a Code of Connection for service consumers;
  • new standards that ensure inter-working across network-oriented services and end-toend serviceability across suppliers;
  • a ‘marketplace’ for PSN Services, established through procurements; and
  • various core enabling infrastructure, including:
    • a Government Conveyance Network (GCN), this being the interconnect ‘glue’ between the individual service providers conforming to the CoICo;
    • central technical infrastructure providing for service inter-dependency analysis across suppliers, supporting end-to-end service management and assurance; and,
    • an appropriate commercial settlements regime for suppliers, underpinning endto- end service management and assurance where the chosen delivery model involves peered service providers.
1.1.4 To be clear, this standards framework will not replace current quality (ISO 9001), service (ISO 20001) and security (ISO 27001; Security Policy Framework) management standards, or Next Generation Network (NGN) standards; rather, it will compliment these by extending standards to various technical, commercial and service inter-working arrangements for government’s suppliers of network-oriented services. ...

From: GCN Service Description, Version1.1, PSN Core Infrastructure project team, UK Cabinet Office, 24 April 2009

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Path to Greener Government

The report "The Path to Greener Government", was launched 2 July 2009 by the UK non-profit group Global Action Plan and Cisco. This reports that most UK public sector ICT managers were not confident about meeting the carbon reduction targets in the UK Government Green ICT Delivery Unit's Greening Government Information Communication Technology (ICT) Strategy. Also reported is that the use of electricity in UK government buildings increased by 3%, with ICT one likely cause.

This has implications for Australia, as the Australian Government ICT strategy is based largely on the UK government approach.The architect of the Australian Government ICT Reform Program is Sir Peter Gershon, from the UK. If the UK strategy is not working , then it is likely the same approach will not reduce Australian Government greenhouse gas emissions. The Australian Government was to release a plan for Green ICT Quick Wins by the end of 2009, but so far there is no documentary evidence of any plan being prepared.

The report is 24 pages of PDF. Here is the executive summary:
Executive Summary


Government is Britain’s largest purchaser of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and when used this equipment is responsible for up to a fi fth of the Government’s carbon emissions - 460,000 tonnes a year1. In total, Government estates spend over £13 billion on ICT annually2. Computer systems are an essential element in the delivery of effective public services, but this delivery may sometimes come at a cost to the environment.

Government recognises the critical importance of ICT not only as a large consumer of energy and primary resources but also as an enabler for environmental and cultural change. Given this level of importance, Central Government has taken a leadership role producing an overarching Greening Government ICT Strategy, developed by the UK Government Green ICT Delivery Unit of the Chief Information Offi cer (CIO) Council. Introducing this strategy, Tom Watson, then Minister for Transformational Government stated:

We want our technology to be effi cient; we want it to be more sustainable and above all we want to be responsible in the way we use it’.

The Greening Government ICT Strategy contains a number of targets and initiatives including the following:

Government has set itself the target of achieving carbon neutrality for all of its Central Government offi ce estates by 2012 with the overarching commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050.

A Green ICT Delivery group has been established by the CIO Council to increase best practice for informing green ICT.

The CIO Council’s Green ICT SOGE (Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate) Map now obliges every Chief Information Offi cer (CIO) and Chief Technology Offi cer (CTO) to complete a Green ICT Roadmap with 18 steps. On 17th April 2009, the CIO Council formally mandated action on 10 of these proposed 18 steps.

The environmental charity Global Action Plan was commissioned by Cisco to explore how effective the Government’s leadership role has been in creating change across the whole of the public sector. The research consisted of two main elements; interviews undertaken by Global Action Plan with leaders in green ICT, from the public sector, its stakeholders, the private sector and ICT suppliers; and a questionnaire sent out by Computer Weekly specifi cally for this study which generated 173 responses.

Key Research Findings


The leadership role Government is playing in green ICT thinking is widely recognised and praised. The strategy is believed by respondents to be comprehensive and considered.

Last year, Central Government recorded a 3% increase in carbon emissions from electricity use in its buildings, with ICT identified as one of the likely key drivers in this increase.

If Central Government does not speed up the implementation of the strategy it could potentially be adversely hit by its own Carbon Reduction Commitment. Awareness and response to the Government’s Greening ICT strategy

Overall 60% of respondents were not aware of the Government’s Greening ICT Strategy. 41% of national government respondents were not aware of the strategy even though it specifi cally covers their area of activity.

67% of respondents that are aware of the Greening Government ICT Strategy are concerned or extremely concerned that targets contained within the report will be diffi cult to achieve.

70% of respondents feel green ICT is important despite the credit crunch.

According to the survey fi ndings, only 16% of respondents are currently sharing knowledge and learning with other public sector organisations in order to achieve their targets.

Implementation Strategies

Only 20% of responding ICT departments pay for some or all of their organisations’ energy bills for which their ICT is responsible. This does not help to incentivise the introduction of energy effi cient technologies.

Only 13% of respondents calculate the carbon footprint of their ICT activities. This should be baseline data for the development of a green ICT strategy.

Only 22% of respondents have set internal green ICT targets. This suggests that distinct green ICT advances which are being implemented are not part of a wider coherent strategy or that internal communication mechanisms may not be effective.

39% of respondents are not aware of the percentage utilisation of their server estate which is important baseline data in the development of a green data centre strategy. Implementation of specifi c initiatives

Take-up of server optimisation, decommissioning idle server equipment and reusing equipment is high (between 59%-69% implementation across all respondents). There are lower implementation levels around server virtualisation, ambient room temperature initiatives and undertaking a data centre layout audit.

44% of respondents have changed replacement procedures in order to extend the lifecycle of equipment.

A high level of respondents have implemented initiatives around shutdown of PCs when out of hours, reuse of PCs and not over-specifying equipment (between 59%-75%). Lower levels of implementation were reported for time switches on non-network equipment and reducing PC and laptop numbers.

There is a consistently reasonable level of implementation around greener printing initiatives with take-up ranging from 53-64%.

The majority of green ICT initiatives focus on reducing the impact of ICT directly e.g. switching off and reducing printing, rather than initiatives using ICT proactively to generate environmental savings in other organisational activities e.g. travel. For example, there was low implementation of initiatives to promote fl exible working (TelePresence/video conferencing etc.) to reduce travel and to enable smarter use of energy in buildings.

Future support required

Respondents identifi ed three areas where they need more support from Central Government:

1. Clearer evidence of the benefi ts of green ICT and how it can help public sector bodies.

2. A green ICT capital investment fund to enable public sector bodies to invest in green ICT technology solutions.

3. More internal leadership and direction.



Government is to be congratulated on the proactive leadership role it has undertaken with its Champions Chris Chant and Catalina McGregor as well as the wider CIO/CTO Council for developing a Green ICT Strategy.

The implementation of this strategy needs to be accelerated if Government is to hit its carbon targets and to ensure that public sector services are not adversely hit by the Carbon

Reduction Commitment.

Government should consider how it can better use its procurement weight to drive change across the wider ICT sector, leading to more effi cient technologies.

Government should adopt the targets set in the Strategy for the wider public sector outside of the CIO Council structure, including Local Government.

The CIO/CTO Council Green ICT Delivery Unit is a part time, voluntary body. Government should look to establish dedicated posts from within this experienced group to ensure implementation of the Strategy is accelerated and completed by the most informed minds in the sector.


Government and CIOs in particular should consider creating a stronger communications strategy to ensure that the Green ICT Strategy and its deliverables better reach Central Government Departments, Executive Agencies and wider public sector organisations.

It remains unclear what exact CO2 savings can be achieved by delivering the 18 steps in the Strategy and Government must look to provide more concrete fi gures, indicative metrics and methods for public sector bodies to measure their own ICT related carbon emissions.

Strategic support

Government should encourage public sector organisations to place their green ICT initiatives within a coherent overall strategy, which links to each organisation’s sustainability strategy.

This strategy needs to ensure that internal targets are set and that essential baseline data is collected (such as a scorecard). Data should include carbon footprints and the energy costs of running and cooling ICT.

Green ICT targets should be incorporated within Government’s current SOGE target structure to ensure a coherent picture is provided to the public.

Implementation support

Public sector organisations are concerned about hitting green ICT targets and need support. Government should consider how best it can demonstrate the positive impact green ICT initiatives may have by promoting transparency and case studies, increasing collaborative working possibly through knowledge transfer networks and establishing a green ICT stimulus package.

Government should consider how it can better incentivise green ICT initiatives that can create environmental savings in other areas e.g. employee travel, as implementation of this type of initiative is currently low according to the survey results. ...

"The Path to Greener Government", Global Action Plan and Cisco, 2 July 2009

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

UK to Get 2Mb/s Universal Broadband

Digital Britain: The Interim ReportThe UK Government released "Digital Britain: The Interim Report" 29 January 2009. The report sets five objectives for the UK: Upgrading digital networks, better investment climate for UK digital industries, quality digital content, universal broadband access, and e-Government. The headline objective is universal broadband at up to 2Mb/s. This is much slower than the 12 Mb/s the Australian Government promised to deliver using FTTN. However, the Australian Government is unlikely to be able to deliver on its promise and the UK figure seems more feasible, as does delivery by a mix of wireless and wired services. It is likely the Australian Government will have to water down its promise to something like the UK proposal within the next few weeks.

The contribution of ICT to a Low Carbon Economy is mentioned in the report, but not given the prominence it deserves. The emphasis on digital broadcast technologies, such as DAB seems a little old fashioned and misplaced (DAB being a very limited one way pre-Internet technology). The use of a graphic of what appears to be a USB flash drive seems at odds with the report's emphasis on digital telecommunications. The report makes an interesting contrast with the Australian Government's recent Digital Economy Future Directions Paper.

Available are:
The full report is provided in MS-Word as well as PDF. The individual sections of the report are also in PDF.
It is unfortunate that the report was not made available in an easy to read HTML format. Here is the text of the introduction:
Introduction and Executive Summary

Around the world digital and broadband technologies are reshaping our Communications, Entertainment, Information and Knowledge industries, the wider economy, and the way of life for all of us.We are at a point of transformation. The success of our manufacturing and services industries will increasingly be defined by their ability to use and develop digital technologies. A successful Britain must be a Digital Britain.
Digital technology has led to a quiet revolution over the past decade in our lives at work, at home and at leisure. Many of us now take for granted a world of constant communication; of large-scale data transfer from home to work and vice versa, leading to new, more transport-efficient and family-friendly patterns of working; hundreds of television and radio channels; user-generated content; instant connectedness with virtual communities of interest and friendship; and keeping extended family networks in touch with images as well as words.

The Communications Sector is one of the three largest sectors in our economy alongside energy and financial services. The UK’s digital economy accounts for around 8% of GDP. It has been one of the fastest growing successes of the past decade. We pioneered digital television and radio and have led the way in a national switchover programme. Our take up of first generation broadband has grown faster than that of almost all the other major economies. Britain has the highest proportion of internet advertising of any developed economy. By 2012 £1 in every £5 of all new commerce in this country will be online.

More importantly, the digital economy underpins our whole economy and builds our national competitiveness. Our readiness to adopt digital technology has driven productivity gains throughout our wider economy. Over the last ten years the UK has been consistently closing its historic productivity gap with the other leading European economies, based largely on our take-up and adoption of digital technology.
But our productivity still lags well behind the USA and we face new challenges from the innovative companies of the successful Asian economies. At their best, they combine fierce competition, providing innovation and consumer services, with a regulatory framework that balances the value of investment in the next generation of technologies against the benefits for the consumer of a competitive market place.

So Britain’s competitive position as a user and producer of digital technology cannot be taken for granted. In the USA, the development of the digital economy, deployment of modern networks and universal broadband internet access are a central part of the new Administration’s programme. The French Government has launched an ambitious reform strategy for their Communications Sector. The European Commission’s global league table of digital adoption, skills and use shows that the UK, having been in the top seven earlier in the decade, has slipped to twelfth place.

Against this backdrop, this report assesses the UK’s readiness fully to exploit the dramatic shift to digital technology as the basis of huge parts of our economy and private lives. This revolution is only a decade old - still in its infancy. Our demands and expectations of it will rise at an accelerating pace. Are we positioned to meet those demands and expectations?

The first, crucial conclusion of the analysis we have done shows that, as a country, we must ensure that our wired and wireless communications and broadcasting networks can meet the demands of a modern knowledge-based economy. Much work has already been undertaken, but over the next five years we will need to upgrade these networks in order to maintain our position and meet our ambitions.

This makes the need for an active and strategic approach from government indispensable if we are to close the gap. We need to plan now, identify the market failures that are standing in the way of a full roll out of digital infrastructure in the UK, and act swiftly in Government to help the market in the timely delivery of the high-capability infrastructure we will need. This industrial activism from government will be critical to ensuring that the UK gets the most out of the digital economy.
The growing global focus on digital technology
President Obama’s technology-based American presidential campaign changed the face of US elections and the new President has made it clear that he sees both technology and a strong communications infrastructure as vital to economic recovery and growth. This includes a radical approach to the deployment of a modern communications infrastructure, including redefining universal service to extend its scope to broadband and unleashing the power of the wireless radio spectrum.

The President’s digital ambition is being replicated across the globe. The French Government has recently launched its France Numerique 2012 plan, an ambitious communications sector strategy designed to strengthen France’s digital position and enhance its broader competitiveness at a time of global economic slowdown and crisis. The message laid out in the plan is clear: the digital economy is the most dynamic sector in the world and as the global recession bites, it is essential to nurture those parts of the economy that can generate growth potential and jobs.
This is not simply a question of economic competitiveness, but also of fairness. We are at the point of technology development where we need a programme to ensure that everyone can connect to the digital economy, that its benefits and advantages are available to all. This means ensuring that all have access to the skills to participate effectively; and that the content and services available give everyone a good reason to take part.

The digital society offers us, as citizens, increased access to information, participation and influence, not least in the democratic process – the recent Presidential Election in the USA was the first to be decided as much online as offline. In addition to news and democratic participation, the digital world gives individuals scope for a broader and richer range of public service content than ever before, that truly informs and educates as well as entertains.

The necessary education, skills and media literacy programmes to allow everyone in society to benefit from the digital revolution will be a central part of the Digital Britain work and key to our success. We must ensure that being digital is within the grasp of everyone. If we do not, we risk leaving significant parts of our society disenfranchised and permanently behind the mainstream. In so doing, we would fail to secure the full potential of these technologies for our country.

It is important for the UK that we enjoy content over digital networks that relates to our culture and experiences as a society and informs us as citizens in a democracy. In practice, this means content generated in the UK for UK consumers, and plural sources of informed, accurate and impartial news, as well as of informed comment and analysis. The market will always provide some of this content, but we need to decide what else we require, and make policy decisions to achieve that. What do we, as a society, expect and require, and what institutions and policies will best deliver it?

Today, Britain has a range of institutions and interventions mostly designed for the analogue age. To date, only the BBC has the reach, the strategic and operational capability, and the funding to be a provider of such content at scale across the digital landscape. In this interim report, we examine the scope for other modern interventions that could provide for plural British digital content and the possibility of a new organisation of the scale and reach needed for the multi-media, multi-platform digital world, able to work alongside the BBC but with a distinct role.

At the same time, we need to ensure that Britain is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities around innovation in new media content. Our track record in creativity and technical innovation in existing media provides an excellent base, but this needs to be married to development of business models that enable content creators to flourish on new platforms. We must also have the research and development programmes that will help us maintain our position.

For us as a society, digital technology also offers the prospect of more effective delivery of wider public services in terms of quality of service, connectivity and reach for the individual – as users of online services today, from NHS Direct to the DVLA’s Car Tax Renewal Service, can attest.

Equally important, the digital society can offer more efficient public service delivery. This will be crucial in an era of very tight constraints on public spending in the years to come, with an additional £5m of efficiences announced in the 2008 Pre-Budget Report. Using the money in the service rather than its delivery is a major benefit for both the user and the taxpayer.

Delivering Digital Britain will require an ambitious and clear strategic vision from Government and a new and stronger sense of co-operation between Government, regulators and industry. We will play our part to ensure open and effective government, including ensuring, through bodies such as the Information Age Partnership, Government and industry have regular, open and constructive fora for discussion.

The Information Age Partnership
The Information Age Partnership (IAP) is a partnership for action between industry and Government, comprising Ministers and Chief Executives of the UK’s leading IT, Electronics, Communications and Content companies.

The purpose of the IAP is to ensure that ICT is effectively deployed to accelerate innovation and productivity growth across the economy and to impact directly on the priorities of small and medium sized businesses. This helps the UK to take maximum global advantage of the technological, economic and political developments that characterise the information age and can drive the UK’s economic recovery.

We believe that the Information Age Partnership will become an even more important and valuable forum for engagement between Government and industry, with a mission to ensure that the promise of Digital Britain is realised.
We need a comprehensive programme for Digital Britain: a programme that has five objectives for 2012 which drive the analysis and proposals in this Interim Report.

Digital Britain: Five objectives
  • Upgrading and modernising our digital networks – wired, wireless and broadcast – so that Britain has an infrastructure that enables it to remain globally competitive in the digital world;
  • A dynamic investment climate for UK digital content, applications and services, that makes the UK an attractive place for both domestic and inward investment in our digital economy;
  • UK content for UK users: content of quality and scale that serves theinterests, experiences and needs of all UK citizens; in particular impartialnews, comment and analysis;
  • Fairness and access for all: universal availability coupled with the skills and digital literacy to enable near-universal participation in the digital economy and digital society; and
  • Developing the infrastructure, skills and take-up to enable the widespread online delivery of public services and business interface with Government.
Readers of this interim report will see that there are varying levels of detail and analysis in the different sections of the report. This is inevitable in an interim report and reflects the fact that there are some areas, where the problems are pressing, where existing knowledge of the issues, informed in particular by previous reviews and the work of Ofcom among others, have allowed us to move forward faster in our thinking and policy development. There are areas where this interim report reflects emerging findings; and those areas where we need to undertake much wider consultation and consideration, including across Government, before we bring forward detailed recommendations to provide a more comprehensive programme for Digital Britain. The process to date has been far from exhaustive. There are many aspects of this vital sector and its wider linkages to our economy and society that we only touch on – from smart grid technology to the links between the Knowledge Economy and a Low Carbon Economy, to the specifics of the next generation delivery of public services online.

Based on the five objectives above the main actions set out in this report are as follows:

Digital Networks
In relation to Next Generation Access Networks, we propose a number of specific actions:

We will establish a Government-led strategy group to assess the necessary demand-side, supply-side and regulatory measures to underpin existing market-led investment plans, and to remove barriers to the timely rollout, beyond those declared plans, to maximise market-led coverage of Next Generation broadband. This Strategy Group will, by the time of the final Digital Britain Report, assess the case for how far market-led investment by Virgin Media, BT Group plc and new network enterprises will take the UK in terms of roll-out and likely take-up; and whether any contingency measures, as recommended by the Caio review, are necessary.

Between now and the final Digital Britain Report, the Government will, while recognising existing investments in infrastructure, work with the main operators and others to remove barriers to the development of a wider wholesale market in access to ducts and other primary infrastructure.

The Valuation Office Agency has provided new, clear guidance which addresses the problem of clarity over business rates identified by Francesco Caio in his report, and will ensure that they respond to any queries from existing and new investors and maintain clear, helpful guidance. For its part, the Government will ensure that the guidance is widely understood by potential investors.

We will, by the time of the final Digital Britain Report, have considered the value for money case for whether public incentives have a part to play in enabling further next generation broadband deployment, beyond current market-led initiatives.

The Government will help implement the Community Broadband Network’s proposals for an umbrella body to bring together all the local and community networks and provide them with technical and advisory support.

In relation to existing and Next Generation Mobile Wireless Networks:

We are specifying a Wireless Radio Spectrum Modernisation Programme consisting of five elements:
  1. Resolving the future of existing 2G radio spectrum through a structured framework, allowing existing operators to re-align their existing holdings, re-use the spectrum and start the move to next generation mobile services. This must be achieved whilst maintaining a competitive market. If this can be done, the economic value of the spectrum would be enhanced. Existing administered incentive pricing (AIP) levels would be adjusted to reflect that enhancement. The Government believes that an industry-agreed set of radio spectrum trades could represent a better and quicker solution than an imposed realignment. There is an opportunity for industry to agree a way forward by the end of April 2009. In the absence of an industry-agreed trading solution by then, Government will support an imposed solution.
  2. Making available more radio spectrum suitable for next generation mobile services. Ofcom has proposed the release of the so-called 3G expansion band at 2.6GHz. The Government will support proposals from Ofcom to play a key role in a pan-European alignment of the Digital Dividend Review Spectrum (the so-called Channel 61-69 band), being released by the progressive switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting, pioneered by the UK. This will free up radio spectrum particularly valuable for next generation mobile services.
  3. Greater investment certainty for existing 3G operators: The Government wishes to encourage the maximum commercially-sensible investment in network capacity and coverage. But the further into a fixed term licence one goes the greater the disincentive to invest. We want to resolve this issue now as part of the structured framework. As part of the structured trading framework existing time-limited licences could be made indefinite and subject instead to AIP beyond the end of the current term. If this were achieved the Government would look to ensure that the AIP then set reflected the spectrum’s full economic value and hence would capture over time the return equivalent to the proceeds that would have been realised in the market from an auction for a licence of the same period.
  4. Greater network sharing: the Government and Ofcom will consider further network sharing, spectrum or carrier-sharing proposals from the operators, particularly where these can lead to greater coverage and are part of the mobile operator’s contribution to a broadband universal service commitment.
  5. Commitments by the mobile operators to push out the coverage of mobile broadband eventually to replicate 2G coverage and mark their significant contribution to the broadband universal service commitment.
In relation to Digital Television Networks:

We will consider at what point and at what cost the standard offer provided by the Digital Television Switchover Help Scheme could have a return path capability, and we will ensure that such capability is available as an option.

We will examine how the marketing and communications activity around Digital Switchover could be enhanced to use the region-by-region programme of publicly funded information and advice on one form of digital transition to provide impartial information on wider opportunities of digital beyond digital broadcast television.

In relation to Digital Radio Networks:
We will take action to support DAB digital radio in seven areas:
  1. We are making a clear statement of Government and policy commitment to enabling DAB to be a primary distribution network for radio;
  2. We will create a plan for digital migration of radio, which the Government intends to put in place once the following criteria have been met:
    • When 50% of radio listening is digital;
    • When national DAB coverage is comparable to FM coverage, and local DAB reaches 90% of population and all major roads.
  3. We will create a Digital Radio Delivery Group which includes the retailers, the Transmission Networks, the BBC, the Commercial Radio Companies, the Car Manufacturers, consumer representatives and the device manufacturers, whose role would be to increase the attractiveness, availability and affordability of DAB and to advise on the Digital Migration Plan.
  4. We will work with the BBC to explore how they could extend their digital radio coverage to replicate at least current FM analogue coverage.
  5. As recommended by the Digital Radio Working Group, we will conduct a cost-benefit analysis of digital migration.
  6. We will consult on new legislation to allow a one-off five-year extension of existing community radio licences, to bring them in line with other radio licences and recognise the important role they have in delivering social gain. We also intend to re-consider the rationale for the current restriction of 50% of funding from any one source.
  7. We will commission an independent expert examination of the economic viability, continuing social contribution of, and most effective delivery methods for, local radio services and the relevance of the existing localness legislation.
Digital Content

In relation to the Economics of Digital Content:

In the final report we will examine measures needed to address the challenges for digital content in more detail, including opportunities for providing further support to foster UK creative ambition and alternative funding mechanisms to advertising revenues.

In relation to Rights and Distribution:

By the time the final Digital Britain Report is published the Government will have explored with interested parties the potential for a Rights Agency to bring industry together to agree how to provide incentives for legal use of copyright material; work together to prevent unlawful use by consumers which infringes civil copyright law; and enable technical copyright-support solutions that work for both consumers and content creators. The Government also welcomes other suggestions on how these objectives should be achieved.

Before the final Digital Britain Report is published we will explore with both distributors and rights-holders their willingness to fund, through a modest and proportionate contribution, such a new approach to civil enforcement of copyright (within the legal frameworks applying to electronic commerce, copyright, data protection and privacy) to facilitate and co-ordinate an industry response to this challenge. It will be important to ensure that this approach covers the need for innovative legitimate services to meet consumer demand, and education and information activity to educate consumers in fair and appropriate uses of copyrighted material as well as enforcement and prevention work.

Our response to the consultation on peer-to-peer file sharing sets out our intention to legislate, requiring ISPs to notify alleged infringers of rights (subject to reasonable levels of proof from rights-holders) that their conduct is unlawful. We also intend to require ISPs to collect anonymised information on serious repeat infringers (derived from their notification activities), to be made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order. We intend to consult on this approach shortly, setting out our proposals in detail.

In relation to the provision of Original UK Content:

To inform whether any change to the merger regime is yet desirable or necessary in relation to the local and regional media sector, the Government will invite the OFT, together with Ofcom and other interested parties, to undertake an exploratory review across the local and regional media sector and make appropriate recommendations.

The existing Terms of Trade between the independent producers and broadcasters have worked well. In light of new entrants to the market, new business models and new distribution channels, it makes sense to have a forward look at how the relationship between independent producers and those who commission their ideas could evolve.

This review will focus on the appropriate rights holding agreements and definitions required for a multi-platform digital future, on the overall health of the sector and on continuing to ensure that viewers, listeners and users get the best and most innovative content and programming.

In the final Digital Britain Report, we will establish whether a long-term and sustainable second public service organisation providing competition for quality to the BBC can be defined and designed, drawing in part on Channel 4’s assets and a re-cast remit. It would be a body with public service at its heart, but one which is able to develop flexible and innovative partnerships with the wider private and public sector. While it makes sense to begin by looking at public sector bodies- Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide- the Government is currently evaluating a range of options and organisational solutions for achieving such an outcome.

Universal Connectivity

In relation to Network Universal Connectivity on Digital Networks:

We will develop plans for a digital Universal Service Commitment to be effective by 2012, delivered by a mixture of fixed and mobile, wired and wireless means. Subject to further study of the costs and benefits, we will set out our plans for the level of service which we believe should be universal. We anticipate this consideration will include options up to 2Mb/s.

We will develop detailed proposals for the design and operation of a new, more broadly-based scheme to fund the Universal Service Commitment for the fully digital age – including who should contribute and its governance and accountability structures.

In relation to the take-up of universally available broadband:

We will encourage the development of public service champions of universal take-up. The Digital Inclusion Action Plan recommended the appointment of a Digital Inclusion Champion and expert taskforce to drive the Government’s work on digital inclusion. Clearly, the work of the Champion will be important in encouraging take-up.

We are inviting the BBC to play a leading role, just as it has in digital broadcast, through marketing, cross-promotion and provision of content to drive interest in taking up broadband. With other public service organisations, the BBC can drive the development of platforms with open standards available to all content providers and device manufacturers alike.

A Public Service Delivery plan: we commit to ensure that public services online are designed for ease of use by the widest range of citizens, taking advantage of the widespread uptake of broadband to offer an improved customer experience and encourage the shift to online channels in delivery and service support.

Equipping everyone to benefit from Digital Britain

In relation to Digital Media Literacy:

The current statutory and specific remit on Media Literacy is contained within s.11 of the Communications Act 2003. As this report makes clear, since 2003 there have been significant market changes in the availability of digital technologies and how they are used. We will ask Ofcom to make an assessment of its current responsibilities in relation to media literacy and, working with the BBC and others, to recommend a new definition and ambition for a National Media Literacy Plan.

This interim report sets out the background to these actions and the analysis on which they are based, as well as providing more detail on how we intend to fulfil them.

I am grateful to the Expert Advisers on the Steering Board and the many stakeholders who have given so generously of their time to produce these emerging findings and proposals and to the project team who have worked tirelessly since last Autumn.

From: Section 1: Introduction & Executive Summary, Digital Britain: The Interim Report, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Page 1
The Stationery Office (TSO), UK Government, ISBN: 9 78 010175 4828, 29 January 2009

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Greening Government ICT

The UK Government has issued a Greening Government strategy. The UK claims to be the first Government to set out a strategy for reducing the environmental impact of computer systems and has an ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2012. However, the proof of a strategy is in the implementation. With strategies for improving the energy efficiency of PCs, Australia may well catch up and overtake the UK in energy saving.

  • Greening Government ICT ("The Strategy") (PDF version, 716KB): This 17 page document details both how ICT can reduce its own energy consumption and contribute to effeicienes in other areas of government activity.
  • Areas for Potential Carbon Reduction [PDF, 196KB, 8 pages]: This eight page document tabulates the Potential Areas for Carbon Reduction from Appendix B of the Greening Government ICT.
    Strategy: Efficient, Sustainable, Responsible.
  • Green ICT SOGE Map (PDF, 110KB: This is a two page document showing where ICT can be used to help implement the UK's energy reduction strategy.

4.1 Strategic Objectives
  • By January 2009 all departments are to address and consider the impact on carbon emissions of all new ICT purchases, building on existing mandatory “Quick Wins1” standards for certain aspects of sustainable ICT purchasing across government.

  • The SOGE targets state that Central Government's office estate will be Carbon Neutral by 2012. This will be supported by Government ICT in lowering the power consumption of equipment used, including outsourced contracts and services. ICT will also support the wider sustainability agenda and the SOGE targets, for example reducing emissions through changes in business processes and working practices, minimising transport and reducing waste through minimising paper use.

  • By 2020 Government aims to comply with and where possible lead and go beyond global best practice for sustainability across the whole ICT lifecycle. This will cover carbon neutrality and sustainable processes for use of materials, water, accommodation and transport, in the manufacture, use and disposal of ICT.

  • Off-setting to be seen as a last resort and only through an accredited scheme in line with Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra’s) code of best practice2.

4.2 This will be delivered by:

  • extending the Business/IT Strategy to include a green ICT plan that shows how the department will deliver the strategic objectives detailed above;

  • implementing as many actions from ‘Areas for ICT Carbon Reduction’ (Appendix B) as are practicable and necessary to deliver the strategic objectives above and specifically:

    • extend the lifecycle of all ICT purchases to their natural demise either caused by failure, inability to support the business objectives of the organisation, excessive maintenance costs or excessive carbon footprint and energy consumption, as opposed to frequent automatic refresh and replacement programmes. This should occur where such extension will have environmental benefits across the product lifecycle and re-deployment of the equipments is not envisaged;

    • reduce the overall number of PCs and laptops used by the organisation to reach as close to a 1:1 ratio as possible unless there are exceptional circumstances3;

    • implement a range of active device power management actions as detailed in Appendix B to significantly reduce power consumption;

    • reduce the overall number of printers used by the organisation and replace with multi-function devices where security issues allow and use green printing defaults wherever possible (such as double-sided and multiple pages printing);

    • increase average server capacity utilisation to achieve a minimum of 50% where possible, as part of a commitment to comply with the forthcoming European Code of Conduct for the operation of Data Centres;

  • as well as continuing adherence to the “Quick Wins” criteria4, by January 2009 all procurement documentation must specify environmental criteria for ICT in line with advice being developed by the OGC Centre of Expertise in Sustainable Procurement;

  • by December 2009 departments will demonstrate how ICT is helping reduce the carbon footprint across the whole department;

  • by January 2010 departments will be ready to report on the progress made towards carbon neutrality;

  • achieving these objectives will require close collaboration between departments, the ICT industry, Government CIOs and Government Chief Technology Officers (CTOs). The CIO of Defra has been asked to lead the development of this strategy and to oversee its implementation by the CIO Council.

3 Exceptional circumstances to include Health and Safety concerns, formal on-call arrangements, business continuity arrangements, security requirements and accessibility or special needs circumstances such as caring duties

Appendix B - Areas for ICT Carbon Reduction



PCs & Laptops

  1. Remove active screensavers

A monitor left running with an active screen saver uses the same amount of energy as when the screen is in full use.

The PC may also be consuming needless power in sustaining the screensaver

  1. Switch monitors to standby after 5 minutes of inactivity (no active screensaver)

Prevents a longer period of wasted power

May be possible to use the PC standby trigger to automatically switch the monitor to standby at the same time.

  1. Shut down PCs after office hours

For the default working day of 8 hours the overnight period lasts 16 hours, so could be wasting up to twice as much energy as consumed during the working day

  1. Enable active power management on desktops (standby / hibernate after a defined period of inactivity)

Having active power management enabled will more closely match the consumption of energy with use, reducing wasted energy

There are products that will enable active power management for all networked devices that have such power management facilities

  1. Ensure re-use of equipment that is no longer required but is still serviceable. If re-use is not possible recycle or ensure green disposal.

The majority of energy in the life of a PC or laptop is consumed in its manufacture, delivery and disposal.

Extending its use or seeking its re-use elsewhere will save energy and materials (manufacturing stage) as well as purchase and disposal costs.

Ensuring necessary security procedures are carried out prior to re-use, recycling or disposal.

  1. Specify low-power consumption CPUs and high-efficiency Power Supply Units (80% conversion or better)

Do not over specify system requirements. The richer the functionality on a device the more mains power is drawn – a high powered machine suitable for high graphic gaming is not needed in a central government office.

Power supply units convert mains AC power to the DC power needed by computers. More efficient units minimise the loss of energy from this conversion in the form of heat.

  1. Apply Thin Client technology

A Thin client is less complex than a PC and contains fewer components, increasing its life over that of a normal PC and reducing maintenance and support costs and thus energy consumption.

However additional energy is required to support the greater bandwidth necessary for connection to its server as well as to run the server and its supporting air-conditioning equipment.

Other office ICT Equipment

  1. Apply timer switches to non-networked technology and printers

Not all ICT equipment can be networked and/or automatically shut down or put into standby mode – typically fax machines, printers and even legacy computers aren’t networked. Neither do all such devices have automatic facilities to switch to a standby mode after a re-set time.

Timer switches can be used to turn off such equipment automatically outside office hours saving up to 2/3rds of its daily energy consumption if currently left on 24hours a day.

  1. Set default green printing including duplex and grey scale

By reducing the amount you print you will save paper and energy.

Further savings can be made by presetting duplex, booklet and greyscale defaults and using a “Print on collect” facility if provided.

  1. Optimise power-saving sleep mode on printers

Printers are only active for 263 hours/yr or 12 calendar days; so if on permanently they waste energy 97% of the time.

If power saving is already in place – reduce the amount of time before sleep activated.

  1. Printer consolidation

Reducing the number of printers and replacing those left with networked multi-function devices (MFDs) e.g. combined printers/copiers, can significantly reduce energy consumption.

Fewer printers may also lower maintenance and management costs.

  1. Device consolidation

Reducing the number of electronic devices an individual has will reduce in-direct energy requirements e.g. less support and maintenance.

Move from using PC to laptop or Thin Client and remote access services on a home or other non-work device connected to the internet to access email.

Rather than a mobile phone and a PDA(e.g. Blackberry), use a single integrated device and “follow-me“ services

Rather than having separate video conferencing equipment consolidating it into desktop devices may reduce energy consumption

Data Centres

  1. Server Optimisation

    1. Implement storage virtualisation & capacity management

    2. Convert existing physical servers to “virtual servers” – partition servers that run in parallel on the same hardware without any interference

    3. Turn off servers outside their service level agreement, subject to a phase loading and chiller unit risk assessment

    4. When designing & provisioning new services, create “virtual servers” instead of procuring physical new servers.

    5. Implement a multi tiered storage solution, much of the data spinning on disks today is seldom accessed

Assists in identifying unused servers and disks

Air-conditioning/cooling equipment typically requires at least the same power as the servers they cool, so reducing servers may save twice the power required to run them.

  • Industry practice has been to run a server using only 20% of its capacity.

  • A server which is switched on but idle still requires 50-70% of the power it uses when it is running under maximum load, therefore a single server running at 80% load uses considerably less energy than 4 servers each running at 20% load.

  • Configure several ‘virtual’ servers onto a single server to increase capacity used. Using a single device in this way not only reduces the hardware and support costs but also decreases the energy requirement.

  1. Reduce cooling in the data centre to appropriate levels and increase the ambient room temperature

  • Research has shown that increasing temperatures in data centres does not lead to a higher failure rate as was previously thought1.

  • Over 50% of the power associated with the data centre is used for cooling the ICT equipment2.

  1. Identify servers and data disks in the data centre that are running but not providing any services and decommission

  • A server which is switched on but idle still uses 50-70% of the power used when running at maximum load.3

  1. Specify low-power consumption, low voltage servers high-efficiency Power Supply Units (80% conversion or better)

  • Do not over specify system requirements. The higher the specification the more mains power is drawn.

  • Power Supply Units convert mains AC power to the DC power needed by computers. More efficient units minimise the loss of energy from this conversion in the form of heat.

  1. Ensure re-use of equipment that is no longer required but is still serviceable

  • Energy is required to manufacture, distribute and recycle equipment as well as to use it

  • Extending its use or seeking its re-use elsewhere will save energy as well as purchase and disposal costs.

  1. Data centre audit

  • Identifies mismatches between the current physical layout and the layout that would maximise the effectiveness of cooling from air conditioning units

  • Up to a 20% reduction in cooling could be achieved4.

3 High Tech: Low Carbon – The role of technology in tackling climate change, Intellect February 2008

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Monday, July 07, 2008

UK eGovernment Task Force Using a Blog

The UK Government has established the "Power of Information TaskForce" to come up with innovative ways to make government information more accessible. To demonstrate they are in earnest, they are using a blog to communicate and the competition with £20,000 in prizes.

While an admirable effort, I found the exercise a bit chaotic and lacking in focus. Also it may be hard for many to believe this is an officially endorsed UK Government activity. Research on emergency web sites has shown that official sites need to look credible by having a government logo and the traditional government (dull) format. The taskforce may have tried to be a little too trendy for their won good.

Ed and Tom’s report set out the social and economic gains that be achieved from better use of the data that government holds, as well as setting out how much further the government has to go to capitalise on these.

The Power of Information Task Force was established by Cabinet Office Minister Tom Watson MP in March 2008. We will be rising to this challenge over the coming months. We have broken the work down into two strands:

  • Exemplars; and
  • Enablers.

The exemplars will be small projects demonstrating the Power of Information principles in action broadly in the fields of:

  • Criminal Justice;
  • Health; and
  • Education.

We shall stray out side these areas when interesting opportunities arise.

As these exemplars develop progress will be discussed on the blog. We are aware that we won’t have a monopoly on good ideas, so please come and share your thoughts and ideas in the comments. If you’re shy please email us at

We see the enablers as being the structural barriers to innovation that exist at the moment. A good example would be the guidance to civil servants on use of social media. Before this was published on 18th June, then civil servants didn’t have a clear interpretation of the civil service code for finding a voice online - so.were impeded from blogging or participating on forums in a professional capacity.

We shall be discussing progress as we make it and sharing our emerging thinking. We are looking for a lively discussion in the comments so please share your thoughts.

Our Terms of Reference are:

To advise and assist the government on delivering benefit to the public from new developments in digital media and the use of citizen- and state-generated information in the UK, including those identified in the Power of Information Review.

The Taskforce will report to the Minister for Transformational Government at the Cabinet Office but work with public sector bodies where it sees benefit to the citizen or workforce. The Taskforce will operate in an open and transparent manner using modern media.

In the light of early progress since the Government responded to the Power of Information Review (Cm 7157 and the Interim Report) the Taskforce will consider the following sub questions:

  • How can government further catalyse more beneficial creation and sharing of knowledge, and mutual support, between citizens?
  • What more can and should be done to improve the way government and its agencies publish and share non personal information?
  • Are there any further notable information opportunities or shortfalls in sectors outside government that those sectors could work to rectify?

The Taskforce will examine information created both by citizens and government and, like the Power of Information Review, is not about individuals’ private information, such as medical or credit records.

For further information, please contact the Task Force secretariat by email ...

For press enquiries please contact Alex Marklew on 020 7276 0436.

From: About the Task Force, Power of Information Task Force, 2008

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Monday, June 23, 2008

UK Government fails own web accessibility guidelines

The UK Government's Central Office of Information (COI) has set a minimum standard of accessibility for public sector websites. Unfortunately their web site detailing the policy fails to meet the standard set, makes misleading claims of conformance with the standard and does not comply with their own guidelines.

The COI has set a minimum standard of accessibility for new UK public sector websites at Level Double-A of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines . This is required as of December 2009 for central government departments and March 2011 for central government executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies.

The COI suggests using free and commercially available automated testing tools as part of measuring accessibility. However, applying one such test, the Web Accessibility Test (TAW), the COI's page failed with eight level 2 problems (excerpt of the report appended). This indicates that the page does not meet at Level Double-A of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The problems with the page are minor and easily corrected.

The COI's help page, states that the "... website's objective are to conform to the Guidelines for UK government websites, which support the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, Level AA, to ensure a Web accessibility standard have been achieved and are maintained." The statement is misleading, as it suggests the web site meets Level Double-A, when it does not. Also the statement does not use the wording suggested in COI's own policy document.

In contrast the Australian Government accessibility policy requires a lower level of compliance, to Level A of the W3C guidelines. The web page from the Australian Government Information Management Office (Australian equivalent to UK COI) stating this requirement not only meets this requirement, but exceeds it, passing the more stringent automated Level Double-A test (excerpt appended), which the UK COI failed.

UK Government Web Page Test

TAW Logo
TAW 3.0 (6/24/08 1:11 AM) Validation conform to WAI guidelines, W3C Recommendation 5 May 1999
Anar a la pàgina principal de Fundación CTIC
Test summary outcome

AutomaticHuman review
Priority 1049
Priority 2837
Priority 3Not analysed

2. Human review1. Human review1. Human review1. Human review2. Human review1. Human review2. Automatic1. Human review2. Human review1. Human review2. Human review1. Human review2. Human review1. Human review2. Human review
1. Human review1. Human review2. Human reviewImages from COI's public information films: Backwards (Fire Safety); Teacher (Road Safety); Arms Length (Firework Safety)
1. Human review1. Human review2. Human review
This page was printed from the COI website at 00:11 on Tuesday, 24 Jun 2008. It is subject to © Crown Copyright.
2. Human review1. Human review1. Human review1. Human review2. Human review1. Human review 2. Human review1. Human review1. Human review1. Human review2. Human review1. Human review

Found issues: ...

Priority 2[WAI] Priority 2 accessibility issues. A Web content developer should satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will remove significant barriers to accessing Web documents. 8 automatically detected problems and 37 problems that require human review have been found.

3.5 Use header elements to convey document structure and use them according to specification.

  • Human review required Verify that all headers are properly marked up ("h1"-"h6" elements).
  • Improper header nesting: Header levels must not increase by more than one level per heading. Do not use headings to create font effects; use style sheets to change font styles (1)
    • Line 32:

11.2 Avoid deprecated features of W3C technologies.

  • This HTML element uses deprecated attributes. (7)
    • Line 19:
    • Line 38:
    • Line 38:
    • Line 38:
    • Line 49:
      1. Line 54:
      2. Line 55:


From: TAW 3.0 Validation Testing outcome for, to WAI guidelines, W3C Recommendation 5 May 1999, as at 6/24/08

Australian Government Web Page Test

TAW Logo
TAW 3.0 (6/24/08 1:25 AM) Validation conform to WAI guidelines, W3C Recommendation 5 May 1999
Anar a la pàgina principal de Fundación CTIC
Test summary outcome

AutomaticHuman review
Priority 1030
Priority 2037
Priority 3Not analysed

2. Human review1. Human review1. Human review1. Human review2. Human review1. Human review2. Human review1. Human review1. Human review1. Human review2. Human review1. Human review1. Human review2. Human review1. Human review2. Human review


1. Human review2. Human reviewThis item is a mandatory requirement

Accessibility is a general term used to describe the degree to which a system is usable by as many people as possible without modification. Web pages often have access issues for people with disabilities or with technological constraints.

Australian Government departments and agencies are also required to maximise their use of new technologies by ensuring that their websites address access and equity issues for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Tell Me About?

The Australian Government aims to achieve fairer and more accessible government services and programs through its Access and Equity Strategy. The strategy seeks to promote fairness and responsiveness in the design, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of government services in a culturally diverse society.

The Government's Access and Equity Strategy is guided by the Access and Equity Framework (Department of Immigration and Citizenship) formerly known as the Accessible Government Services for All Framework. It was developed in 2006 in consultation with Australian Government agencies, taking into account their ability to contribute both as separate portfolios and to whole-of government responses to the challenges faced by our culturally diverse nation.

Its four principles, and the corresponding performance indicators, address key responsibilities of government:
  • Responsiveness – Extent to which programs and services are accessible, fair and responsive to the individual needs of clients
  • Communication – Open and effective channels of communication with all stakeholders
  • Accountability – Effective and transparent reporting and review mechanisms
  • Leadership – A whole of government approach to management of issues arising from Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse society.

The framework suggests strategies for the implementation of these principles. It aims to assist agencies to analyse their performance and better share good practice responses to challenges and opportunities.

Progress in implementing the Access and Equity Strategy is published in the Access and Equity Annual Reports (Department of Immigration and Citizenship).

Why Must I?

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 agencies must ensure that people with disabilities have the same fundamental rights to access information as the rest of the community.

Under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy, (Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) Australian Government agencies are obligated to remove barriers which prevent people with disabilities from having access to their policies, programs and services.

Under the 2000 Government Online Strategy departments and agencies are required to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (World Wide Web Consortium).

Agencies must achieve level "A" conformance (all Priority 1 checkpoints are satisfied), and it is recommended that agencies achieve level "AA" conformance (all Priority 1 and Priority 2 checkpoints are satisfied).

The W3C guidelines explain how to make web content accessible to people with disabilities. However, following them will also make web content more available to all users. These guidelines do not discourage content developers from using images, video, etc., but rather explain how to make multimedia content more accessible to a wide audience.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

The W3C guidelines provide a series of checkpoints that can be used to ensure that websites are accessible. Each checkpoint has a priority level assigned by the Working Group based on the checkpoint's impact on accessibility.

Priority 1

W3C states that a web content developer must satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it impossible to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint is a basic requirement for some groups to be able to use Web documents.

Level of Compliance: The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's view is that compliance with the W3C WCAG 1.0 guidelines to the Single-A level is a minimum rather than a desirable outcome. Websites that demonstrate such compliance may still be difficult or impossible to access for many users with a disability.

Priority 2

W3C states that a web content developer should satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will remove significant barriers to accessing Web documents.

Priority 3

W3C states that a web content developer may address this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it somewhat difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will improve access to Web documents.

How Do I?

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission provides information on World Wide Web Accessibility standards, guidelines, tools and techniques.

Government resources

Other resources

Who Can Help?

A list of workshops and training is available from HREOC - World Wide Web Accessibility.

For queries and assistance contact Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission - 1. Human

For further details regarding access and equity requirements, contact:

Multicultural Affairs Branch
Department of Immigration and Citizenship
1. Human reviewaccess&

What's Related?

2. Human review1. Human review1. Human review1. Human review2. Human review1. Human review...

From: TAW 3.0 Validation
Testing outcome for
conform to WAI guidelines, W3C Recommendation 5 May 1999, 6/24/08 1:25 AM


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