Microsoft e-gov tool free for governments

Microsoft is making its Citizen Services Platform for creating Web-based electronic government services available to local and regional governments. The platform is available without charge to municipal governments, but they will have to operate a Microsoft computing environment to run the platform.

The Citizen Services Platform includes eight ready-to-use templates for the most common types of transactions between municipal governments and residents, and it can be customized to offer the preferred level of sophistication. E-government services that municipalities and regional governments launch using the platform can, for example, range from simple, so-called presence offerings that provide static information to more complex transactional services incorporating live data streams or enabling online, real-time interactions between residents and government.

The platform includes the following templates:

E-Councilor template'A Windows Live Agent that allows messenger communication with a virtual government worker to ask questions.

Web TV template' Allows government and citizen video hosting in Web 2.0 style.

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 templates' A set of 40 templates to customize scenarios that address site and system administration needs.

Local government communications template' Sample portal with intranet and extranet templates.

Role-based My Site template' Designed for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and the My Site functionality.

Agenda Management template' Allows organizations to streamline processes.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM templates for municipal governments' Vertical templates, including reference data models, predefined work flows and role-based user experiences.

The Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Role-based My Site and Microsoft Dynamics CRM templates are available now; the others will be available later this summer.

'We're interested in getting citizens out of line and online,' said James Osteen, assistant director of Miami's information technology department. The city is giving input to Microsoft as it develops additional templates for the platform, Osteen said, including a template in the works for people applying for, documenting, paying for and tracking building permits in addition to a possible template incorporating Virtual Earth to give people localized, neighborhood-oriented services or access to information based on their geographical position.

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