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1.1 ACTION LINE 1.1: Creating New Markets by Raising Awareness at the European Level with Specific User Groups

Background

The IMPACT-2 programme provided a level of basic awareness to its target groups through the National Awareness Partners network in the European Economic Area. This network made knowledge available about initiatives in electronic publishing and multimedia. Given the success of this and similar operations, which have contributed to shifting the task of providing basic awareness to the press and the media, INFO 2000 will concentrate on selective demonstration actions and the guidance and support of users.

Objectives

The objective of this action line is to stimulate the creation of new markets by demonstrating the opportunities arising from the developments taking place in the European information services market and especially in multimedia applications. The main purpose will be to convince the target groups of the advantages of using multimedia, to demonstrate access to government and transborder information and to provide feedback to the European content industry with a view to the design of new multimedia applications. Target groups will be in industry and trade, in particular SMEs, and citizens.

Actions

  1. the selection of around 20 Multimedia Information Demonstration And Support nodes (MIDAS-NET nodes) through a call for proposals
  2. demonstration, dissemination and communication activities (ACTIONS OF INDIVIDUAL MIDAS-NET NODES).
  3. the development of a cooperative network between the MIDAS-NET nodes and the implementation of joint projects (JOINT ACTIONS OF MIDAS-NET NODES).
  4. the provision of a framework for cooperation, technical support and a common image for the network (COMMISSION SUPPORT ACTIONS).

Actions of individual MIDAS-NET nodes

The mission of the nodes should cover the objectives described in point 1.1.2 above. The following list provides an example of activities that should be undertaken by the network nodes, in the context of their normal activities, to raise awareness of information potential at the European level:

  • Execute demonstrative actions with the selected target groups, including citizens, on how to access multimedia content.
  • Disseminate on request information at their disposal in the area of the multimedia content market.
  • Provide information on local projects and services available.
  • Set up and operate WWW services.
  • Set up and operate a help-desk for users (both electronic and through a human operator).
  • Develop and conduct seminars and workshops concerning information content issues and attend exhibitions and conferences.
  • Provide feedback from users and potential users for the benefit of the content supply industry.
  • Stimulate the participation in Information Society related projects through dissemination of information about relevant EU initiatives, in particular INFO2000.

Joint actions of MIDAS-NET nodes

A number of actions will emphasise the network character of the MIDAS-NET nodes:

  • Creation of a collaborative network using state-of-the-art technology such as WWW;
  • Development and implementation of common projects between centres, based on different initiatives of the nodes.
  • Stimulation of co-operation of Member States activities leading towards an information society. The role of the European Union is to provide a common framework for the various initiatives and to develop synergy with the different actions in progress by bundling resources at European level and improving access to information on a transnational basis.
  • Exchange/Transfer of expertise by spreading success stories and best practice about the new multimedia technologies, acting on particular target groups that can act as multipliers within their institution or company.

Particular attention will be given to providing support in regions that are less advanced in the transition to the information society. The exchange of knowledge and best practice among the partners operating over different geographical areas will also favour cohesion.

The MIDAS-NET nodes will in particular contribute to the creation and consultation of pan-European user groups as detailed in Action Line 1.2.

Commission support actions

The Commission will provide infrastructure and support to the network, acting as a facilitator for the exchange of information and expertise and ensuring that the flow of information, especially towards the less developed regions, is sustained. The main areas of support are:

  • WWW I*M Europe and ECHO server for dissemination of information about the Commission's activities in the field of information content;
  • Support for implementing a WWW network between the individual MIDAS-NET nodes;
  • Common awareness material compiled and produced as a means for establishing a corporate image of the network;
  • A central support team with a multilingual help desk;
  • An inventory of information content sources, demonstration products and services;
  • Workshops and information exchange to update skills and competences in the network.

The Commission will stimulate the image and recognition of the MIDAS-NET nodes as proactive advisory centres on the national level and ensure the corporate identity of the network by focusing on actions of common interest at network level and by setting common minimum standards.

The overall level of support is subject to negotiations with the selected organisations or consortia following the call for proposals. It will mainly depend on the geographical area covered by the network node and by the agreed work programme.

Exploitation of synergy

MIDAS-NET is a specialised network targeting specific user groups through demonstration facilities at their premises advertised locally, and other actions like exhibitions and conferences. Annex 2 to this Work Programme shows the different EU networks presently operating in areas related to INFO 2000. Nodes are expected to establish links with other organisations and networks which are carrying out complementary actions for the establishment of the information society in Europe.

As indicated in the INFO2000 programme proposal, links will be established with DG XXII for the programmes SOCRATES and LEONARDO for common awareness actions. Collaboration with the EICs and BC-NET of DG XXIII will be instrumental in addressing the SMEs. The DG XIII networks set-up under the IT and ACTS programmes are complementary to the MIDAS-NET nodes; they will benefit from a user base provided by MIDAS-NET. Collaboration will also be sought with the Multimedia Support Centres of DG III, whose action is more directed on the supply side of the market.

The MIDAS network will operate in close co-operation with the relevant networks, information content associations and user groups, including professional associations and Chambers of Commerce. Establishing links with these networks and organisations, both specialised and of a more general nature, is a specific task of the MIDAS-NET nodes.

Expected results

This Action Line will result in improved cooperation at the European level and transfer of knowledge and experience. Qualitative and quantitative performance criteria will be agreed with the selected organisations and will be used to measure the progress made. Examples of success indicators are parameters like the total number of people who participated in seminars, workshops, accesses to WWW home pages, etc. A common reporting structure will be implemented to gather the relevant data. An annual survey of users will take place via the WWW to establish the number of people/SMEs who, as a result of the mentioned activities, have taken up new on-line connection by a service provider, acquired a CD-ROM drive, bought which CD-ROM titles, etc.

Monitoring the satisfaction of participants will also indicate the success of the network. The degree of collaboration, exchange and transfer of expertise will also have to be reported regularly during the MIDAS-NET nodes meetings which are organised on average three times per year during information days, conferences or at MIDAS-NET nodes centres.

ACTION LINE 1.2: Encouraging clusters of pan-European user groups

Background

A flourishing demand side is necessary for the development of a healthy market for advanced information products and services such as multimedia. In view of the rapid changes taking place in the information content market, a regular dialogue between content suppliers and content users is required to support market development.

In the content industry the demand side is poorly organised and fragmented. User groups are beginning to emerge at national level, where professional organisations and industry sector organisations are starting to address the content issues. National and pan-European user groups are needed for an effective dialogue between the supply and the demand side to emerge.

Objectives

The objective of this action line is to stimulate this dialogue, by providing incentives for co-operation and exchange of experience concerning content related issues between national user groups, thereby encouraging the emergence of European groupings.

Actions

The network of MIDAS-NET nodes (see action line 1.1) will be instrumental. Based on their knowledge of the national information content market, the network nodes will contribute to the establishment of user groups by providing an appropriate electronic infrastructure (WWW and E-mail) for the discussions and exchange of experience between the groupings. In addition, they will arrange regular meetings (every 6 months) for the groups, where specific issues and the conclusions from the E-mail sessions can be discussed and elaborated further.

The Commission will assist the MIDAS-NET nodes in setting the agenda for the national discussions, by identifying the key problems and issues to be discussed concerning information content. In addition, the Commission will use the I'M-EUROPE WWW-Server to provide a pan-European infrastructure for discussions between the different national groupings. It will also arrange regular pan-European meetings for representatives of the national groupings once a year.

Areas targeted for co-operation and exchange of experience will be the key areas that are tackled under Action Line 3.1 and also such important themes as information quality and information liability.

The experience gained by information content services directly aimed at end-users and citizens, notably those already established and emerging consumer on-line services will be re-used. Experience will be exchanged with services such as CompuServe, America On Line with Bertelsmann, Apple e-world, Microsoft Network, Europe On line as well as with EINS (European Information Network) in the area of Scientific and Technical Information.

Exploitation of synergy

The MIDAS-NET nodes are well placed to identify active associations in their own regions, but in the process of establishing the groupings, existing groups already focusing on Community policies with regard to SMEs (established by DG III and DG XXIII) will also be consulted.

This action line will be carried out in synergy with other Commission initiatives and programmes related to SMEs, notably those operated by DG III and DG XXIII.

Budget for action line 1

The Council decision on INFO2000 foresees around 22-32 % of the total budget for Action Line 1.

Sixty five per cent of the amount reserved for Action line 1.1 will be directly allocated to the MIDAS network nodes, covering the actions of the individual centres and the initiatives at network level (Actions of individual MIDAS-NET nodes + Joint actions of MIDAS-NET nodes). The remaining thirty five per cent is assigned to the tasks of the Commission Support Actions. Assuming an actual funding level of around 25.5% over four years of the overall budget a breakdown is indicated below.

 


BUDGET %
Action Line 1.1
  • Actions of individual MIDAS-NET nodes Contracts for 20 centres @ 100,000 ECU/year (on average)
12.3
  • Joint actions of MIDAS-NET nodes Joint Action by the network nodes
4.1
  • Commission Support Actions 
    Personnel and infrastructure
8.8
Action Line 1.2
  • Establishing pan-European user groups
0.3
TOTAL FOR ACTION LINE 1 25.5


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