CIO outlines e-commerce, digital divide plans

SAN DIEGO -- North Carolina chief information officer Rick Webb joined lawmakers and state agency representatives here at the recent National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council conference to outline the state's approach to electronic commerce, state S.B. 222, and the digital divide.

North Carolina's e-commerce initiative will be based around World Wide Web portals -- points of entry where customers can access online government services. It will empower state agencies to plug their applications into the central portals while taking advantage of common services the state will provide [civic.com, Oct. 28].

S.B. 222, passed over the summer, gives Webb oversight power over the state's information technology procurements. State Auditor Ralph Campbell Jr., called it "the most profound legislation in the last 10 years."

Joe Tolson, a member of North Carolina's House of Representatives, wants to see the e-commerce initiative become something that every citizen in the state views as accessible and worthwhile. "I'm highly concerned about people that don't have computers and can't get to them in some locations," he said.

Tolson, who is chairman of North Carolina's House Technology Committee and represents a rural area, said people with access to the Internet and computers are aware of the benefits of e-commerce, but others are not.

"I'm not hearing from those that don't have access, and that's who I want to reach," he said. "There's people that don't understand the Internet and e-commerce and what's available to them. They are so used to the way it's always been that we have to educate them a little bit."

Tolson said the best way to reach rural audiences and local communities has been through the state's community college system.

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