NetByTel initiative is aimed at enabling telephone users to access Web-based government services
NetByTel Inc., which has been providing voice-access solutions to private
industry for some time, has launched a "v-Government" initiative aimed at
enabling telephone users to access Web-based government services.
Based on Voice XML (VXML) technology, NetByTel's solution will offer
an audio version of the government services available via PC.
XML (Extensible Markup Language) "tags" digital data so that similar
kinds of data can be pulled from various sources and displayed in a number
of different ways on a Web page. VXML does the same, except that it enables
the data to be "displayed" in an audio form.
In the v-Government initiative, a Web-based service that enables someone
to request government forms and publications using a PC, for example, also
would be available to someone using a telephone to access the system.
Governments have been very active in making their Web-based services
work well with PCs but seem to have forgotten that many of their constituents
still don't have access to the Internet, said Paul Karch, director of government
affairs for NetByTel.
Furthermore, interactive voice-recognition technology, which has been
around for 15 years, "has proven to be a bear to fold into the newer world
of the Web," he said. But VXML will now enable governments to use their
existing infrastructure to feed voice-based applications into the same back-end
enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management applications
they now use to handle information from Web services.
Applications such as citizen and employee surveys can be voice-enabled
within a week using NetByTel technology, Karch said, and could be the first
kinds of phone services governments will opt for. Other types of services
will take longer to implement, although he believes less complex applications
such as literature requests and location finders may be seen within the
next six months.
The company has other applications such as license renewals under development
and is in final negotiations with one state for v-Government services, Karch
said, but he wouldn't reveal its name.
Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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