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e-Government solution - Bridging the digital divide [3:44]

Movie script

San Luis, Argentina. A province with one of the smallest populations in the country. Although city life is flourishing, 80% of the people still live out here – in widely spread rural communities – often with little electricity and no telephones.
For many, a three-hour bus journey to the hospital isn't uncommon. Not to see a doctor, but to make an appointment to see one.
But amazingly this tiny province is making a quantum leap over the digital divide – thanks to the daring ambition of a visionary government.

THE CHALLENGE
The challenge was daunting - to thrust San Luis into the 21st century by launching Latin America's first e-government. The goal was to provide telephony and internet to every community of twenty or more citizens to improve lives in every area - health, education, social security.

Luis Russo/Chief Auditor, Government of the Province of San Luis:
We won't rest until we are able to give every citizen in San Luis a system of telephones, internet and cable television with the same standards found elsewhere in the world.

THE SOLUTION
To help them achieve this dream, San Luis turned to NEC to provide a solution. After three years of technical work and 22,000 hours of specialist training, this vision became a reality. They call it the Autopista de la Informacion - the information highway.

THE TECHNOLOGY
The Autopista is a fully integrated service platform, including an accessible next generation network - NEC provided everything from the actual infrastructure of optical fiber, radio, and satellite links which ring the province to the very building which houses a massive data centre .

Luis Russo/Chief Auditor, Government of the Province of San Luis:
This assistance with technology has created a close relationship between NEC and the government , which enabled us to get this system up and running.

But NEC also offered the people of San Luis something much more: fixed internet centers helping to train people both on computers and how to access the internet, and even traveling vans, equipped by NEC to bring connectivity to rural areas, to people who simply can't afford a computer.

Pablo Gunning/Communications and Public Affairs Manager,NEC Argentina:
The most surprising thing is when you see people that has never seen a computer in their lives start using the computer and how they discover technology can put them through the world, through a single screen.

THE BENEFITS
Today, thanks to NEC and the San Luis government, schools across the province are preparing children for the future, nurturing a new internet savvy generation.
And in remote villages like this, people can now access critical government services, even booking hospital appointments through mobile technology, knowing that their medical history is already in the database.

Luis Russo/Chief Auditor, Government of the Province of San Luis: The Autopista reaches places where there

wasn't even an electric light bulb. It means everything works. The people living in these places today have exactly the same chances as someone living in a town or city like San Luis. It's a dream come true for us. It's excellent.

Overview

E-Government (Argentina)

Photo: E-Government (Argentina)
Photo: E-Government (Argentina)

Although in the popular imagination Argentina is linked in the mind with the vibrant, populous capital of Buenos Aires, with over 11 million souls, the majority of Argentineans live outside of the big cities, in sparsely populated towns and villages. As Argentina continues to emerge from a major financial crisis, a constant problem for local governments is how to give the citizens in the outlying areas access to the same services as those in the more populous parts of the country.

In the province of San Luis, in the geographical heart of Argentina, it is not uncommon for people to have to make a journey of three hours into town to make an appointment to see a doctor at the local hospital. The government of San Luis realized that an e-government could provide the answer to this lack of access to facilities and information.

NEC worked with the government to coordinate the creation of what is now called the Autopista de la Informacion - an accessible, web-based next generation network that rings the province with optical fiber, radio and satellite links. It took three years technical work and twenty two thousand hours of specialist training to turn the project into a reality.

At the heart of the Autopista is the data center which not only hosts NEC's secure servers, but software solutions specially developed for the San Luis government. But access to the network is still problematic for parts of the province where there are no telephone lines, let alone optical fibre links. In those cases, mobile satellite up-link vans provide internet access to the most outlying districts of the country.

But technology is only one step in enabling the population to access information online. In places with more than three hundred people, community access centers are being built – working with NEC to offer free training in computer skills and access to Autopista.

E-government has transformed the lives of the residents of San Louis by reducing the digital gap between rich and poor, between those in the city and those in the countryside. According to Luis Russo of the San Luis government, Autopista is a success not just because NEC implemented a technological solution, but because it was part of an active collaboration. “At every step along the way,” he says, “we were hand in hand. This assistance with technology has created a close relationship between NEC and the government, which allowed us to get this system off the ground”.


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