Valgerður Sverrisdóttir Minister of Industry and Commerce
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my honour and pleasure to open this conference, which headline is: Iceweb 2006.
The Icelandic Government has placed emphasis on further development of the information society in Iceland. The country is in a favourable position to use information technology. Icelanders have been at the forefront regarding public access to computers and the Internet. The same may be said about various other aspects of the information society, which are compared in international surveys. Great progress has been achieved, for example, in certain areas of business life. According to a new report, Iceland is number four in the ranking of the World Economic Forum´s Global Information Technology Report 2005-2006.
In some areas, however, development has been slower than expected. As an example, I can mention, that the company SJÁ – Interface Testing and Consulting, conducted a survey for the Prime Minister´s Office and the Association of Local Authorities in the year 2005 on all the web pages of the Ministries, their institutions, as well as the web pages of the local municipalities. SJÁ looked at whether the sites were interactive and how useable they were. The result from the survey was clear: We had to make a lot of improvements. Only four institutions offered full interactivity at their web sites, meaning that the public could conduct their business through the web.
As a result from this survey, the government intends to place more emphasis on making it possible for the public to send applications to the government organisations and get a response via the Internet. The government is going to launch a special project on this issue, defining what service it can render electronically and how it is going to deal with interoperability issues. Also, we do hope that the use of electronic signatures will be more in the next years than before.
In 2004, the Government of Iceland introduced a reviewed policy on the Information Society, for the years 2004 to 2007. There, it is stated that public administration should emphasise e-business and e-government. A comprehensive portal should be established to play a key role in communicating information and e-government. The portal ought to aim at the general requirements of individuals and companies in Iceland and abroad, which communicate with government organisations. The objective is to facilitate access to public services in such a way that the user will not need to know in advance, which organisation provides the service required. Currently, a lot of work is been carried out in order to launch the first version of this portal, Ísland.is, later this year. As indicated, the government has highlighted the importance of usability for this portal. It is absolutely essential that it will be useable – it is made for the public and the public should be able to use it without restraints.
On a personal basis, I can share with you, that I find the Internet to be a wonderful tool to express my views. I have a private web site, valgerdur.is, on which I post short articles. The media gets information when something new has been posted, and reports it, if it is of general interest to the public. In that way, I am not dependent on newspapers or TV Channels, to share my views with the public. I have tried to make my homepage useable, as that is essential in my view in order to get the public to access it often.
I would like to thank the organisers of this conference for increasing the dialogue here in Iceland on usability of the web. I hope that you will have fruitful discussions here today.
With these words I declare the conference open.