Tag Archives | European Commission

Growing Europe’s economy: the role of ICT

The European Commission has published a scenario-based report on how the innovative rollout of ICT can bring about economic growth.

The report, written by The Conference Board, considers two driving forces:

  • The pace of economic growth – fast or slow
  • The European digital market – fragmented or integrated

By placing these forces on a simple ‘two-by-two’ axis, the report explores four possible 2017 scenarios.

Scenario one – The Digital Rainforest

In this scenario, an integrated Europe-wide market for ICT is able to take advantage of global improvements in the economy to compete worldwide.  In this market, rapid growth and change requires flexibility and agility and the market is likely to be characterised by constant change and disruption

Scenario two – The Digital Glasshouse

In this scenario, the integrated EU marketplace is hampered by slow economic growth.  However, Europe will benefit from an internal market that functions more smoothly.

Scenario three – The Digital Desert

Here, slow global economic growth and a fragmented marketplace hampers the growth of the European ICT market

Scenario four – The Digital Savannah

In which the EU market remains fractured but worldwide growth means many firms simply ignore the European market seeking to grow beyond Europe’s borders


The report calls for rapid action to ensure that the European market can maximise tis potential as the world’s largest economic bloc.  A high quality and affordable infrastructure of high speed fixed and mobile broadband is vital.  At the same time, efforts to upskill the population must be improved and a regulatory environment, which supports sector growth, must be established.

“National governments and the European Commission must commit to a long-term coherent and strategic vision for the role of ICT, reforming and investing where necessary…. To further innovation and [lead] by example”

More information.

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Children and apps

Apps for and used by children have been in the news recently.

In the UK a five year old managed to run up a bill of £1,710.43 in paid for add-ons for a game which he had downloaded free from Apple’s app store.  He was using his parent’s iPad (with permission) to download and play Zombie v Ninja.  The UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is to investigate the ‘free app/paid for features’ marketplace.

More than two thirds of children and teenagers in the UK own a smart device.  According to a survey conducted in the UK by OnePoll, 36% of children aged 11-16 download mobile apps without their parents’ permission.  40% of boys admitted to having done this, compared with 31% of girls.

The survey also found that youngsters can increase their families’ monthly charge by an average of £34.  The highest bills were generated by eight-year olds!  The researchers estimate that parents are incurring approximately £30 million in ‘unauthorised’ purchases.

In Australia the Cartoon Network researched the media habits of 1800 children and discovered that game playing and video watching  (rather than social media) are their main internet pastimes.  They research also found that:

  • 48% of Australian homes have a tablet device
  • 30% of children use tablets to access the internet
  • 69% of children aged 4-14 use apps , and use an average of 7 per month
  • 32% drop in game console usage since previous survey in 2011

(These findings are echoed by a recent report from the US showing how teenagers are leaving ‘traditional’ social media sites in favour of alternatives.)

Developing apps for children – “tappable apps”

At a recent conference for developers of educational apps for children, three key challenges were identified:

  • Working within appropriate privacy guidelines
  • The challenge of obtaining feedback from ‘non-verbal’ young children
  • The challenge of identifying compelling content for young people

The conclusion – make the apps as “tappable, responsive, and interruptive” as possible.

Best content for children in Europe

The EC has just launched the second European Award for Best Content for Kids,  looking for ‘positive content initiatives’ across the region.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]



Women in IT and Science

Recent research in the US reveals that women are ‘outnumbered and out-earned’ in science.  Men are taking home an average of $1,117 to a woman’s $853 per week while the mean suggested starting salary for women was lower.  The research also found that all women –whether they had children or not – were at a similar disadvantage.

Meanwhile in Europe, the European Commission, working with international ICT stakeholders, has created the European Code of Best Practices for Women and ICT, stating that women are underrepresented in the industry as a whole and in particular in decision-making roles.

The Code represents recent positive developments and aims to ensure that more women choose ICT and are encouraged and supported in the industry.

Recommended changes in education 

  • Schools and universities should organise career events which feature successful female role models
  • Educate teachers as to possible job opportunities
  • Encourage mentoring programmes between young female engineers and students

Recommended changes to recruitment practices

  • Use gender neutral – or female friendly – vocabulary when advertising vacancies
  • Use recruitment procedures that promote diversity
  • Analyse the company’s gender statistics and compare them with local and sector market
  •  Set targets designed to improve gender balance
  • Apply flexible working practices at all levels – including senior management positions

Career development 

  • Offer competence development programmes
  • Finance care expenses (e.g. childcare) when training outside usual working hours
  • Make career planning a responsibility of the organisation and the individual and apply equal opportunities principles in exercising this responsibility

Monitor career development

  • Collect and analyse relevant statistics
  • Create processes to monitor relevant company policies
  • Introduce mentoring programmes

Work/family balance

  • Promote a positive philosophy of maternity/paternity leave
  • Produce guidelines  to ensure staff on leave (e.g. parental leave) are managed appropriately to ensure inclusion
  • Set up resource and competence monitoring during leaves of absence to identify training and support requirements for returners

Intellectual property in the digital economy

Intellectual property is increasingly political.  Recent protests against SOPA/PIPA and ACTA demonstrate that consumers are unhappy with big business driving IP policy.  Lena Roland has summarised the key issues surrounding these initiatives in an excellent guest post on the InfoVision blog.

In response to a call from European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes for ‘Big ideas for the Digital Agenda’, the Linked Content Coalition (LCC) has been launched this week.

The LCC brings together executives from TV, music, news media, IT and internet businesses, and has been set up to work on a cross media project which aims to improve the management of copyright in the online world.  LCC participants want to identify what works – and what doesn’t – and to develop a model that will facilitate commercial and non-commercial use of content.

Meanwhile, Consumer International has published its IP Watchlist for 2012.  In it, 30 countries are ranked according to how their intellectual property (IP) laws and enforcement policies affect consumers.  The report gathers examples of ‘good’ and ‘bad practice’ and highlights initiatives which it feels will provide a fair balance between content consumers and creators.

Israel takes first place in the report, praised for its ‘fair use’ approach to copyrighted material.  The UK appears in the bottom three for the fourth successive year.  The report argues that outdated copyright law hinders academic research, digital product development and ‘cultural engagement’ and calls for the recommendations of the Hargreaves Review to be implemented ‘without delay’.

The report can be downloaded for free.


Building Europe’s digital economy

The European Commission’s Digital Agenda is one strand of its Europe 2020 Strategy.

Over the last 15 years, over half of Europe’s productivity growth has been ICT driven.  But if Europe is to fully exploit the benefits of the digital economy, it must address the seven key priority areas identified in the Commission’s Digital Agenda.

A new Single Market to deliver the benefits of the digital era

  • Simplification of copyright clearance, copyright management and cross border licensing. 
  • Better access to pan European telecoms and digital services and content.

 Improve ICT standard-setting and interoperability

  • Interoperability will encourage creation and innovation

Enhance trust and security

  • Coordinated approaches to both data security breaches and data projection legislation

Increase Europeans’ access to fast and ultra fast internet

  • Very fast internet is essential for the economic growth.  The Commission will explore how to attract investment in broadband

Boost cutting-edge research and innovation in ICT

  • Increased investment in ICT R&D to ensure our best ideas reach the market.

Empower all Europeans with digital skills and accessible online services

  • Everyone should be able to participate in the digital life

Unleash the potential of ICT to benefit society

  • Online access to medial records
  • Energy saving 
  • Support af aging populations

Making the digital agenda a reality is a key priority.  The documents and background information to the Digital Agenda can be found on the Commission’s website.