1Since the turn of the millennium, there have been launched - due to the progressive advance of the internet – numerous efforts to develop and establish e-Government, e-Health and e-Business. E-Government projects, in the broadest sense, aim at the facilitation and execution of processes of information, communication and transaction between administrative bodies and citizens as well as among administrative bodies, by means of information- and communication technologies (ICT). E-Health refers to the use of information and communication technology in healthcare, while e-business stands for the use of these technologies for merchandise, trade, and procurement.
2In 2000, the European Union (EU) passed the “eEurope 2002” campaign plan. Its main task was the widespread accessibility of broadband access at competitive prices. Based on the success of “eEurope2002”, the action plan “eEurope 2005” was passed in 2002. It deals with public and private internet-based services and their use for politics, economics, social services and health care. The latest plan of campaign is called “i2010,” which started in 2005. Its main goal is an increase of research spending in the member states of the EU and the reduction of legal barriers (ECIS & M 2005, pp. 2-4).
3Increasingly it is recognized that the services mentioned in the eEurope 2005 action plan need to be connected to a spatial context, to allow a respective use on site. One of the EU initiatives in this context is INSPIRE: INSPIRE, which stands for Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe, is another action plan of the EU. It was presented in 2004 and is scheduled to be passed by the end of 2006. Its main task is the construction of a standardised infrastructure for geo-data throughout the EU. Geo-data should be accessible via the internet and provided for as many people as possible. In this sense one of the functions of INSPIRE is to act like a node, connecting different projects and strategies by providing them with digital geo-data and other data to spatially represent project data for the European Community. Simultaneously, INSPIRE itself is one of the big EU-projects to strengthen the aim of creating a European Information Society. We will not, however, point out this project in more detail in this paper.
4Once a legal framework is implemented and an adequate infrastructure is provided, geo-data will be available all over Europe. Samples of geo-data are free of charge. A fee will be charged, however, if the user downloads data of micro-scale from the Internet for home or office-use. The offered geo-data will not only be useful for administration and economy, but also for education and information (ECIS & M 2005, pp. 5-8).
5All action plans described above are related to Europe. Their implementation in the member states is to a large extent a matter of the respective national governments. In the following chapters, several German e-Government, e-Health and e-Business projects will be presented and discussed.
6Due to Germany’s federal state structure, e-Government projects are fundamentally more complicated than in other European countries. For example, all 16 German federal states pursue their own strategies concerning e-Government. These individual efforts by the states are bundled and coordinated by the nationwide action plan ‘Germany Online’ (Germany Online), in order to guarantee feedback, high efficiency and best-practice. Another part of ‘Germany Online’ is the ‘Bund Online 2005’ program : by the end of 2005, 440 public services of the German federal administration were made available over the Internet. More than half of these services are only information services, yet it will be a long way to a completely interactive service infrastructure between administration and citizens, which certainly is the goal of e- Government and a so called ‘personal government’ (FMI 2006, p. 3). Fig. 1 shows the organizational structure of ‘Germany Online’ and the individual strategies of the parties involved.
7‘Germany Online’ is based on five columns : (a) the portfolio of services to be pro- vided, (b) the co-ordination of the e-Government portals, (c) the creation and improvement of security standards and data-infrastructures, (d) the providing of data and process models, and (e) the coordination of e-Government strategies and the efficient communication between all involved parties. Within the framework of these five columns there exist several model pro- jects whose development is of special interest, each under the supervision of another state. Below, the single columns and the respective model projects will be described.
Figure 1: Coordination of e-Government projects by ‘Germany Online’
Source : Koch, A. & F. Schweinle, 2006.
8Additionally, a timetable for ‘Germany Online’ has been published : by the end of 2005, all public authorities of federal government, federal states and municipalities should have access to electronic communication services and infrastructures, respectively. By the end of 2006, all ‘Germany Online’ projects passed in 2003 will be available via the internet. The authorities involved will be communicating electronically by the end of 2007 and by 2008 all suitable administrative procedures will be offered online. In the reminder of this paper we will present some main topics of these five core themes.
9The first column is dedicated to the so called portfolio of services : the main task of ‘Germany Online’ is to provide services which are frequently used by citizens and enterprises and which are very labour-intensive for the administration via the Internet. For example, by creating an online company register, the participants in the capital markets and business operations will be enabled to access enterprise data easily and for free. Currently, this information service is accessible to only a few stock exchanges and investment banks.
10When migrating between municipalities, citizens had to register at the new municipality and additionally had to check out at the old one. In the future, citizens will be able to register online at her/his new place of residence, due to online communication facilities between the respective authorities. A check-out will no longer be necessary. By this means, an integrative registration database will be created which is available online. Personal status data will also be available electronically, replacing certificates of death, birth and marriage.
11New technologies can also be applied to the official statistics administration. Data can be collected via online forms and will be processed and analyzed electronically. The results can then be published on the Internet and can be made accessible to the public. In this way a lot of time, effort and money could be saved to collect official statistics. In Germany, approximately 15 million motor vehicles are registered every year – an enormous effort for the concerned authorities. As many as 47 different types of software tools are used for registration, creating masses of different, sometimes incompatible, data formats. This causes problems creating a central registration platform at the Federal Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Drivers. These problems will be solved by the implementation of certain standards. The whole registration procedure will be processed online, which means that communication among the authorities and to citizens will be Internet-based in the near future.
12Currently, 750.000 Students in Germany are receiving financial support from the Federal Law on Support in Education (Bafög). In the future, students will be enabled to fill out the necessary application forms online and to electronically send them to the authorities. Further- more the authorities will communicate via novel interfaces to accelerate and facilitate the processing of applications.
13Every year there are approximately 400.000 heavy haulages in Germany. Each one has to be reviewed and approved by more than 1.000 local bureaus across the country. VEMAGS is a procedure management for heavy haulages, planned to handle applications and permissions online. Since the respective application is instantly available electronically, it will be possible to reliably check the planned route of the heavy haulage for potential obstacles and hazards by using geographic information systems. If permission is granted, it can be directly sent to the applicant via the Internet.
14More than 35.000 people are seeking asylum in Germany every year. Authorities from all levels of administration are collaborating in asylum affairs. Besides the Federal Government, there are 66 courts, 634 foreigners’ registration offices and 22 reception centres involved. At this time, the concerned parties are mostly communicating by mail or phone, without using up-to-date technologies. In the future the necessary document will be computerized, digitally signed and coded for security reasons before being shipped electronically. The task is to reduce time and expenses as well as to ensure that applicants will receive a response about their states as soon as possible (E-GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE, no page).
15The second column of ‘Germany Online’ is dedicated to the coordination of e-Government portals. Currently there are more than 7.000 different portals available, offered by the federal government, the federal states and the municipalities. These portals will be linked and harmonized, and central access-points will be created, enabling citizens to easily reach as many services as possible in a minimum amount of time. The so called ‘Cooperation Committee for Automatic Data Processing Federal Government/Federal States/Municipalities’, is responsible for the linkage of the portals.
16In co-operation with the federal states, the federal government has already created the necessary access point ‘www.bund.de’, which offers a competence finder and a searchable database of municipalities and authorities. At the same time the federal government collaborates with other European governments to create a pan-European e-Government access-point.
17The ‘online services’-project has quite a similar task : to ensure that services affecting all levels of administration – for example authority directories, job ads, advertised biddings or the selling of federal real estates – will no longer be offered via individual portals, but will be bundled and offered via one particular portal. This will help keep track of the offered services and will avoid duplicates.
18While the first two columns deal more or less with the service portfolio and its accessibility and linkage, the third column of ‘Germany Online’ is dedicated to the infrastructure necessary for the exchange of data. The outstanding importance of a common basis for communication between all involved parties was already emphasised before by introducing the service portfolio. The federal government, the federal states and the municipalities will cooperate to create an e-Government infrastructure.
19Beside the Internet, authorities are already able to communicate via TESTA (Trans European Services for Telematics between Administrations), which is a proprietary, powerful and secure communications platform. TESTA was developed and is operated by the ‘Cooperation Board Automated Data Processing State/Countries/Municipalities’ – a subsidiary of Germany’s largest telecommunication company ‘German Telekom’. One of TESTA’s main problems is the handling of agreements necessary to communicate. Communication between authorities cannot be carried out until all involved authorities have agreed to such communication. In the future these agreements will no longer be necessary, so communication via TESTA will certainly be facilitated and the communication platform will be an equivalent and safe alternative to the Internet.
20To improve communication between authorities and citizens, which can be currently characterized by incompatible data formats and media disruptions, clearing will provide secure communication services as well as data and format conversions. These optimisations and con- versions will be carried out by clearing centres who act as external service providers.
21In this context OSCI (Online Services Computer Interface) is of growing importance. It is a common standard of protocols for public institutions to transmit data securely and confidentially. It is a German standard to accomplish the guidelines of the law of signature.
22The so called ‘Task Force Business Models’ deal with business models and legal frameworks of the e-Government projects. Until now, the legal framework has just been cleared for individual administrative bodies and levels. Since ‘Germany Online’ is a nationwide project embracing almost all of Germany’s administrative bodies, new legal and economic issues and challenges need to be handled by this new task force. This aspect is of particular importance for the whole project since all decisions and solutions of the task force influence the success of all other projects in the scope of ‘Germany Online’.
23Another legal issue of e-Government projects refers to the question of how to substitute for conventional signatures, since electronic documents need to be signed digitally. For that reason, standards for a digital signature need to be designed and established. Only with the use of applicable systems for digital signature do digital documents become legal, compulsory and can be exchanged via the Internet. The federal government, the federal states and the municipalities are therefore cooperating with leading commercial enterprises to acquire adequate solutions. These solutions may also be used in the e-Business sector to conclude purchase contracts via the Internet.
24The fourth column of ‘Germany Online’ is called ‘standards, data and process models.’ Based on a combined e-Government infrastructure, the federal government, the federal states and the municipalities define standards, data and process models for highly efficient communications and transactions. Especially modern XML-based technologies will be used. XML stands for Extensible Markup Language ; it is a standard for machine- and human- readable documents based on a tree structure. XML is a commonly accepted description language for the determination of logical structure and for the easy processing of data. In the future, all involved participants will promote and coordinate the XML-standardization according to the pattern of successful XML model projects, to achieve synergy effects and to avoid duplicates. The XML-standardization is considered the foundation of secure and effective communication and data transfer between all parties involved in the e-Government process. The standard will also be established in social services and employment as soon as possible, since within these sectors reliable, secure and fast data exchanges are essential.
25Furthermore, the adopted standards and process models should be kept as transparent as possible, to be able to offer a variety of products and services within this framework by a huge number of providers. By that, business competition will be ensured and the authorities will benefit from cheaper and interoperable products. In addition, the scientific results of these standards will be transferred into private enterprises much more quickly.
26The remaining column of ‘Germany Online’ deals with the coordination and management of the entire action plan. The federal government, the federal states and the municipalities aim at enhancing the e-Government coordination task by establishing an advisory council. This council accepts responsibility for the entire ‘Germany Online’ project and the projects of the individual federal states. Best practices will be promoted and inefficiency can thus be avoided. Between 2000 and 2004 the Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour promoted the establishment of three e-Government model regions in Bremen, Esslingen and Nuremburg with the so called ‘Media@Komm-Transfer’ project. Using the results emerging from these model regions, the ministry will push a nation-wide diffusion and also the standardisation of municipal e-Government with the help of a central transfer agency and 20 transfer municipalities, the so called ‘hot spots.’ The main task is to promote e-Government as a growing market in the future and as a key factor to the modernization of economy and society, as soon as possible.
27The state secretaries of federal government and federal states have established a committee meeting every 3 months. They are also joined by experts and by important organisations from different regions. Their job is to coordinate the federal cooperation of e-Government projects on behalf of the head of the federal government and the federal states. The committee also runs a public relations department, serving as a contact bureau for the ‘Germany Online’ action plan in order to publish various websites and newsletters to keep the public informed about the project.
28In the reminder of this chapter, individual e-Government strategies of two federal states will be briefly described. Through this we will point out the different level of implementation and the different significance of e-Government strategies.
29In North Rhine-Westphalia, the so called ‘Masterplan E-Government’ was passed in 2003. It expired by the end of 2005. This master plan was very successful due to more than 1.000 public services and information websites being offered. Services are, amongst others, online tax declaration, online job offers for teachers, an online cadastre and the geo-data portal North Rhine-Westphalia. The federal state has created an ideal e-Government infrastructure and offers a central access point to all online services called ‘Service Portal NRW’ (http://www.service.nrw.de). North Rhine-Westphalia also gained a leading role in realizing various projects of ‘Germany Online,’ including the creation of an online company register and the electronic criminal record as well as the geo-data project of ‘Germany Online’. North Rhine-Westphalia is taking part in the implementation of e-Government projects on a municipal, state-wide and nation-wide base. The state government considers e-Government as a promising branch and opportunity for administrative bodies and citizens. (MOI NRW 2006, pp. 5-6)
30The situation in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is entirely different. The state also passed its ‘Masterplan E-Government’ in 2003. The master plan will expire in late 2007 ; the first concrete projects have been launched in 2003. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania the implementation of this master plan is being aggravated by two basic issues : The long lines of communication and lengthy decision-making processes between the parties involved as well as the problematic budget situation. Contrary to North-Rhine Westphalia, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is not involved with any of the state-wide ‘Germany Online’ projects. The regional government considers e-Government more as a burden, putting a certain pressure on the state. (MOI MWP no date, pp. 5-6)
31These statements are in sharp contrast to the contemporary goals of e-Government in general. According to eEurope 2005, disadvantaged regions and borderlands like Mecklenburg- Western Pomerania should primarily benefit from e-Government projects. The success of the ‘Germany Online’ project apparently highly depends on efforts of the federal states. The same is true at the European Union scale where the co-ordination and harmonization of the member state’s individual e-Government projects will arguably cause some problems in the next few years. Against this background of difficult networks of responsibilities and competences be- tween the federal state and the states, it is not really surprising that Germanys’ strategies in generating a sophisticated e-Government system are not fully congruent with EU-programmes. This problem is described in the next section.
32Within eEurope 2005, several benchmarks have been carried out in order to keep track of the developments in the member states and to compare the levels of implementation. Fig. 2 shows the percentage of basic public services available online in 2004. Basic public services are defined by the Internal Market Council and consist of 12 services for citizens and eight services for businesses. These services are classified on a scale “ranging from simple information to full online interactivity” (ECIS & M 2005. p. 22). Germany’s position is only average. Not surprisingly, Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Finland scored around 70 percent, since they have always been leaders in information and telecommunications technologies. Nonetheless, Germanys’ next-door neighbour Austria scored more than 70 % and finished in second amongst the countries.
Figure 2 : e-Government : online availability of basic public services (Oct. 2004)
Source: European Commission Information Society & Media 2005, p. 22.
33Fig. 3 shows the use of online services by citizens and businesses in the member states. In Germany around 30 % of citizens are using e-Government services, the fifth highest level in the EU. In the use of e-Government services by enterprises, Germany also scored a little more than 30 %, but ranked 15th in Europe. Countries like Finland and Sweden achieved around 80 %, and even Eastern European countries like Poland and Czech Republic scored over 60 %.
Figure 3: e-Government: use of online services (Oct. 2004)
Source: European Commission Information Society & Media 2005, p. 23
34When the benchmark report was made in 2004, the ‘Germany Online’ action plan had been running for not even one year, so the results of this plan are not really reflected by that report. Unfortunately, there are no further recent benchmarks. Germanys’ e-Government infrastructure and thus its ranking among the EU-countries might therefore be significantly higher. While e-Government projects seem to be difficult to realize due to decentralized structures of competencies, other sectors like the health system seem to have an advantage because of its central power represented by the federal ministry. However, even in this sector, problems of secure data or legal barriers remain to be solved.
35Besides e-Government, e-Health is another important issue of eEurope 2005. On the one hand, e-Health describes the use of telemedicine, for example a remote diagnosis or consultation via the Internet. On the other hand, e-Health stands for the creation of a telecommunication infrastructure in healthcare, including the online linkage of doctors, hospitals, research labs and health insurance companies to allow the online exchange of patient data, electronic prescriptions, bills and other data (FMEL 2003, p. 16).
36Fig. 4 presents the use of the Internet by general practitioners in the EU in 2002. In Germany, only 45 % of the general practitioners have access to the Internet or a proprietary network, by far the lowest value compared to all European countries. Just 6 % of the general practitioners have access to these networks and are using the computer for the exchange of patient data. In comparison, 95 % of Danish doctors use the Internet and 81 % actually exchange patient data via the net.
37One important reason for this low adoption in Germany is the fact that the institution of the ‘Federal Union of Panel Doctors’ widely prohibits the exchange of patient data over the Internet, due to what they see as insecure data exchange (FMEL 2003, p. 18).
Figure 4 : e-Health : access to and use of particular health-networks
Source: Federal Ministry of Economy and Labour 2003, p. 19.
38Due to the ongoing process of reducing legal barriers, inventing interoperable systems and improving security standards, the network of general practitioners and the exchange of patient data will be promoted. This will happen in the context of the telecommunication infrastructure project, realized by the Federal Ministry of Health, the health insurances and a number of private enterprises. This project is part of contemporary German health care reform and consists of the following parts.
39The electronic health-card will replace the previous insurance card, its range of functions will grow with a stepwise upgrading of the above mentioned infrastructure project. The electronic health-card will be tested in different sample regions, including in Bochum, Essen and Ingolstadt. The health-card features all the functions of the former insurance card and it is also valid in other European countries. Additionally, it might be used as an electronic prescription, equipped with medical functions like the provision of emergency data and a medication database, containing information about possible allergies to certain medications. With this it is easier to deal with emergencies. It might also be used for administrative purposes and could feature additional patient information such as bills, prescriptions or patient files. The card owner can decide to what extent the information can be read. While basic functions like individual insurance data and electronic prescriptions are compulsory, medical and administrative functions are voluntary (FMH 2006, no page).
40North Rhine-Westphalia has established its own initiative called ‘e-Health.nrw’, a model project for the creation of a widely accepted and used telecommunications infrastructure in the field of health care. With this project North Rhine-Westphalia takes a pioneering role in Germany’s e-Health sector.
41In addition to the health-card, the introduction of a health professional card (HPC) is planned. The HPC is necessary for physicians or pharmacists to access medical data. Without the HPC as a legitimating basis, it is not possible to access any data stored on the health card. Another security feature is the personal identification number (PIN) : Every time a physician or pharmacist wants to access data on the health-card, the patient has to agree by entering her/his PIN. The only data which can be accessed without any PIN number is emergency data, because the patient might be unconscious in case of emergency.
42To make data exchange safe and secure between all parties involved with e-Health, a reliable and stable network will be established. This network will link 123.000 medical practices, 65.000 dentists, 2.200 hospitals, 21.000 pharmacies and 270 health insurance companies and will offer an access-point for insurants.
43As mentioned above, the health-card test started in spring 2006 in eight regions. It is still undisclosed as to when the first new health-cards will be handed out to the citizens by the insurance companies. Despite some remaining obstacles one can see an ongoing process of organizing data more effectively. In the economic sphere the progress of effective and efficient data handling and data exchange is already more developed, as will be discussed in the next section.
44Often the terms e-Business and e-Commerce are used synonymously. According to the most recent definition, eCommerce is just one part of e-Business and is related to electronic trade among enterprises and among customers/citizens (e.g. online shops or eBay) and between them (ZIMMERMANN 2007). The other part of e-Business is e-Procurement, which refers to trades between enterprises and suppliers.
45One main goal of national efforts is to create an effective framework for e-Business. The application of EU-guidelines into national law is of particular importance, as is the autonomy of the economy. Another main focus is the use of information and communication technologies in public administration, especially the advertised bidding for services and goods (e-Procurement). Desired effects are the generation of new jobs and an increased efficient use of taxes.
46An effective framework is intended by developing a legal basis for information and communication technologies. This legal framework contains rules of competition and data protection, but also consumer protection, protection of children and adolescents, copyright and tax and tariff regulations. The policy goal is to minimize legal barriers and to create a secure environment for e-Business with the help of new and modified laws in order to increase customer’s and enterprise’s confidence in e-Business.
47Besides this legal framework, the establishment of new standards in e-Business is promoted. These standards will then guarantee that a large number of users will be able to trade electronically in different ways and with higher efficiency. Against this background, European guidelines are of extreme importance.
48The Federal Ministry of Economy and Labour does not only work on a framework for e-Business, it also promotes the diffusion of e-Business by initiating several model projects and competitions. The Ministry, for example, promotes the so called ‘E-Business Network,’ which enables small and medium-sized enterprises to take part in e-Business activities. SME’s and their employees are informed, advised, supported and trained in workshops on a regional basis in so called competence centres. The Federal Ministry of Economy and Labour also has initiated annual competitions and awards, like the ‘German Internet Award,’ whose 2005 topic was the ‘digital creation of value on the Internet.’
49With the enforced promotion of e-Business, small and medium enterprises are being especially supported. Furthermore, the launch of start-up companies will be fostered. These start-ups will be able to reach a large number of customers with a minimum amount of effort and costs (FMET 2006, no page).
50All of the above mentioned plans of campaigns, programs, and strategies serve several different aims. In this concluding section we want to elaborate on some of these targets briefly by focusing on e-Government and e-Business. One of the driving forces of information and communication technology (ICT) projects is concerned with the economic optimisation of processes. For example, the expenditures of the public sector for e-Government projects in Germany add up to eleven billion Euros (see Business Geomatics 2006, p. 1). This investment aims at using taxes more efficiently and reducing financial problems of many municipalities by implementing a powerful e-Government system. The high relevance of ICT use in public administration also results in a different complexity of processes compared to the private economy. According to the management consultancy of McKinsey, an ordinary municipality offers up to 400 different services ; a financial service enterprise, however, only 50 to 100 services (NO AUTHOR 2006, p. 1).
Figure 5 (a): Online Services in German Cities 2000
Source: Floeting 2001, p. 110.
Figure 5 (b): Online Services in German Cities 2005 (expected)
Source : Floeting 2001, p. 110.
51Apart from optimisation and simplification, diversification of supply is another important topic. At the end of the 1990s, a lot of e-Government projects were limited to the supply of information. The meaning of communication between citizens and administration has been recognized gradually, and the possibility to pay for services electronically was not very common (see Fig. 5). Meanwhile, the shares of ‘communication’ and ‘transaction’ increased remarkably. Many municipalities offer reference services, E-Mail communication services, access to interactive maps, or the possibility to register cars, including electronic payment via the Internet (see e.g. the virtual city hall of Hagen, http://www.vrhagen.stadt-hagen.de).
52The potential of increased e-Government use leads to another significant issue : novel approaches of promoting the economy and regional development. Due to the commercial exploitation of municipal real estate and office space, via the Internet regions are now able to communicate information at the global scale – in a pretty simple, fast and cheap way. Increased opportunities of ‘communication’ and ‘transaction’ also help to commercially exploit regions as tourist attractions, such as through providing information and allowing for hotel bookings. And innovative networked cooperations contribute to active and distinctive regional development. This means that strategies of the advancement of ICT also improve competitiveness of enterprises as well as regions.
53Improved chances of representation and increased competition are in conflict with another intended aim : the decrease of regional inequalities. In principle, the above mentioned strategies also serve to connect peripheral regions to powerful backbones. The five new states of Germany, for example, benefited from the use of innovative technologies (e.g. fibre optics) due to reunification. This is true for some agricultural regions, who had established tele-cottages or call centres in order to create or maintain a sufficient economic base. It should be considered, however, that the promotion of e-Government or e-Business projects do not necessarily imply success.
54In general, most of the political activities concerning the diffusion of ICT are appropriate to accomplish the word ‘information society.’ The economic push factor of efficiency and global competitiveness creates attraction in other contexts of the society. Nevertheless, it is also seen as a necessity. Projects like those mentioned above, but also e-Learning, tele-hopping or electronic banking, lead not only to new forms of division of labour (spatially, temporally and organisationally) but also to new forms of social cohabitation. Since more and more services are being used from home, this implies, among other things, effects on the neighbourhood. Activities like working, shopping, learning, and recreating can be managed flexibly via the Internet by appropriate services, which in turn can serve to vitalize neighbourhoods.
55Geographical approaches of the 1980s and 1990s have declined in meaning, like the idea and hope that transportation might be substituted by ICT. This is likewise true for theories of concentration or deconcentration. Due to the manifold ways of access to and use of ICT – in different relationships – economic, political, cultural and social processes are becoming more complex. Definite scenarios of technological effects will be very difficult. There are ample scopes to influence these processes. The diffusion of forthcoming innovations might then encounter a high level of acceptance. So far, the programs launched during the last years by the national state, the federal states, and the municipalities to promote the Information Society are a necessary accompanying activity.