Kiosks link people to government

The government last week unveiled Washington, D.C.'s first interactive kiosk

designed to deliver government information and services to people who lack

online access.

The General Services Administration and the National Partnership for

Reinventing Government this year teamed up with vendors Urban Cool and GS

Planet to roll out thousands of kiosks across the country.

The kiosks will be located in shopping malls, bus stations, supermarkets — such as the new kiosk at a Safeway supermarket in southeast Washington,

D.C. — and other facilities in areas where few homes have computers or Internet

access.

GSA will install about 36 kiosks this summer. Over the next few years,

the vendors will install most of the estimated 6,000 to 8,000 kiosks anticipated

as part of the program. The vendor-managed kiosks also will provide links

to commercial services and information.

All the kiosks will link to local, state and federal World Wide Web

sites that contain information on topics such as voter registration, driver's

licenses, small businesses, taxes, events and social services. Eventually,

more and more transaction-based services, such as applying for a driver's

license online, will be made available on the kiosks as government agencies

enhance their sites, said an NPR spokeswoman.

NPR has signed agreements with other agencies, including the Department

of Housing and Urban Development and the Agriculture Department, so that

a visit to a HUD kiosk, for example, would provide links to other government

services.

"It's a phenomenal step toward giving people access to government services,"

the NPR spokeswoman said.

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