City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Napier's Teledemocracy Centre Wins Top EU Award


By edg - Posted on 10 February 2008

Napier University says, "Look, no hands" with this automated response system which cuts out the need for middlemen between the public and governments when interacting through web sites.

"The submission of a query activates the process and the HANDS
service retrieves the relevant information by comparing the search to
FAQs and publicly available documents and by automatic selection of the
correct email address to send queries. "

The full release is posted below:

"Napier’s International Teledemocracy Centre (ITC) has won the EU’s
eTen Project of the Year award for an initiative to improve public
bodies’ online communication services.

The Helping Answers Decision Service (HANDS) system won the award
after an online public vote in December 2007 / January 2008. HANDS, an
online service designed to facilitate communication between citizens
and public bodies across the EU, received almost one third of all the
votes submitted by professionals in the fields of eGovernment,
eInclusion and eHealth.

In the project ITC’s work ranged from developing tools and server
programmes for measuring the performance of the search engine, to
managing workshops where key stakeholders identified how HANDS could
meet their needs and expectations.

Research Associate Peter Cruickshank, who led the Napier team’s
research, said: “We’re very pleased that professionals across
e-government and e-society fields have recognised our work.

“The HANDS service is an opportunity for public bodies to offer a
single point of access where users can smoothly interact with a
web-based system, with potential benefits for the public and the
organisations involved.”

Users will be able to access HANDS through the public body’s website
and type their questions on the keyboard using everyday language
(without needing to use any keywords).

The submission of a query activates the process and the HANDS
service retrieves the relevant information by comparing the search to
FAQs and publicly available documents and by automatic selection of the
correct email address to send queries.

The system was trialled in Edinburgh, Bologna in Italy and
Saarbrücken in Germany, as well as on the website of the Italian public
utility AGAC, which supplies energy and environment services.

The HANDS system now hopes to roll the application out across the Europe.

The ITC was established in 1999 and conducts research into how
information and communication technologies can enhance and support the
democratic decision-making processes. The Centre has worked closely
with governments, parliaments and NGOs across Europe and worldwide, and
has established an international reputation as a research centre that
combines relevant software engineering applications with political and
sociological analysis.

For more information on the HANDS project and the ITC, visit http://itc.napier.ac.uk/ "