'My N.C.' on the way for citizens

In a cutting-edge move that could signal the next generation of state World Wide Web portals, North Carolina has signed a contract to build a portal that will merge the features of Yahoo with state information, allowing users to customize the site.

A fisherman, for example, could customize his site to showcase weather, traffic and tide information, and license regulations — and even sign up for an e-mail to remind him when to renew his fishing license, said Melinda Pierson, spokeswoman for Commerce Secretary Rick Carlisle, who chairs the e-commerce steering committee.

"If you can customize the site and get all the information you want handed to you instead of searching for it, then state government is serving you the best," Pierson said.

The site will be similar to Yahoo's My Yahoo site, where after signing up and receiving a user identification and password, users can choose what news interests them the most, organize it by importance and choose its location on the page. In addition to news, people can choose music releases, sports scores, stock quotes, travel information, local weather and scores of other information.

This format will be used by North Carolina for three of its four Web portals — citizen, employee and business. The fourth portal, local government, will be added later. The portal will first be available at the end of July, transferring information at the state's current e-commerce portal, NC @ Your Service (www.ncgov.com) to the new portal. New features will include items such as Yahoo's general interest information and the Yahoo store, where electronic payments can be made.

A second release, two months after the first, will add additional features incorporated from Yahoo.

The state has contracted with Andersen Consulting, which is subcontracting with Yahoo for content, and BellSouth to host the site. Andersen will be in charge of the NC @ Your Service project office, which will be run similar to the Year 2000 office but will manage the state's e-commerce initiatives.

The contract will not exceed $3.5 million for the first six months, when the portal and office are implemented. It also includes three additional years for "enhancement" and an optional year to transfer the portal to the state, if necessary. No figures are available beyond the first six months.


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