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A European Initiative

EQUAL is an acronym that stands for „Electronic Services for a Better QUAlity of Life", a European project that is co-funded by the EC within the DG XIII „Digital Sites" frame-work and involves seven countries, which will carry out the EQUAL activities in six sites:

UK UK / Leicester
Leicester City Council
flagfrance.gif (713 Byte) FR / Metz
Metz Ville
flagitaly.gif (714 Byte) IT /Brescia
ASM Brescia
flagaustria.gif (1188 Byte) AT / Linz
Magistrat Linz
flagspain.gif (1247 Byte) ES / Bilbao
Ayuntamiento de Bilbao
flagsweden.gif (1214 Byte)
flagdenmark.gif (1192 Byte)
SE / Ronneby, DK / Bornholm
Ronneby Kommun,
Trade and Industry Development Council of Bornholm




The final users of EQUAL applications

The EQUAL target group includes the Citizens and the Business and Education communities, which expect various benefits from the use of electronic services offered by City administrations:

  • easier and more user friendly access to different public services

  • efficient distribution of information in easily understandable form

  • the possibility to have access to many services through only one access point

  • the possibility to perform on-line transactions with local administrations




General Objectives

  • Service for the citizens:

The project sets out to develop integrated modular and interoperable telematic systems for the management of different municipal services and transactions between citizens, small and medium enterprises and administrations. The services will be developed in each city according to common guidelines e.g. smart cards in Brescia.

  • Exchange of applications:

One of the main advantages and strengths of the EQUAL approach is the transfer of expertise and know-how between EQUAL sites, but mainly the sharing of software modules and services, e.g. The „libraries" application from Ronneby will be implemented in Metz. As a result, EQUAL employs the „best practice" approach, defined as „Centres of Excellence".

  • Validation of functionality of services:

EQUAL plans to verify, both on small and large scale, the EQUAL subsystems, the prototype functionality and the achieved integration. A fundamental issue in EQUAL is the security of Internet connections, legal and regulatory issues and electronic payment. EQUAL will recommend solutions to overcome legal, institutional and financial barriers to telematic services deployment.

  • Strong user involvement:

To ensure that the project results conform to the user requirements, EQUAL has created a network of users, called User Reference Group.




Time Frame

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Knowledge and technology to be used

Telematic components including multi-media products and services will be extensively used in the project.

In particular :

  • High speed intra-administration networks : dedicated LAN and WAN
  • Internet servers: based on WWW platform
  • GIS and Multimedia Archiving Systems: for the mapping, recording and presenting the thematic data related to the different applications.
  • High Definition terminals: for displaying the different geographical areas and the thematic situations with sufficient details Public Access Terminals (Electronic kiosks) and urban Variable Message Signs.
  • Multi-function chip-cards: to be used as identification mean and "electronic payment" in integrate multi-function applications.
  • Mobile networks (defined as supporting networks for services offered through portable terminals): mainly SWIFT technology.

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Global EQUAL Reference model

The access to the City Server is guaranteed simply through a direct connection, through public networks, and that can be done by using any browser from any of the three channels explained.

tech_Server.GIF (23961 Byte)


The City Server is composed by four different layers (from left to right in the figure below):

  1. the first layer at all is the module in charge of managing the SSL protocol, which has to guarantee for a secure connection, whenever needed;
  2. then there is the Graphical User Interface, which should be as reusable as possible from city to city. Apart from this issue the GUI will allow the Citizen to access to different kind of "services".
  3. access to information which are stored on the local disk of the City Server, such as HTML pages;
    • access to specific applications which have been directly implemented on the City Web Server, such as local search engines for public transportation or environment information;
    • access to the Information System of the Public Administration which will be managed through the proper CGIs
    • launch of the available applications from the Centre of Excellence
  4. Web Server. This is the usual layer to map the Client requirements into the corresponding information processing and retrieval;
  5. The link between the City Web Server and the specific "place" where the information is available, either through a direct access (e.g., an HTML page) or after some processing (e.g., the result of a complex call to a Centre of excellence application).


Global Ref model.gif (9773 Byte)

User Reference Group

As part of the consortium, EQUAL plan to set up a pan-European user group of local and users interested in following and exploiting the project achievements. The members are city administrations, local authorities, citizen associations which are already identified in the local activities plans. They are all already heavvily involved in the cities life as local entities directly linked to the City Administrations (Leicester, Metz, Linz, Bilbao, Brescia, Ronneby and Bornholm). Each of the 6 EQUAL Contractor Administrations will respectively contact and formally indicate 5 Members of the Users Reference Group; one of these will be a "twin city" (city with special relationship and links) and 4 will be local users.

Therefore, this Group will be initially formed by 30 Members - 6 of which will be represented by cities administrations non belonging to the consortium - , which will be immediately contacted and fully informed about the project activities.

The User Reference Group represents users of the applications developed in the project. This group controls directly activities in the various countries and provides co-ordination from the point of view of the user requirements.

They will balance EQUAL requirements with technical possibilities. Cost effectiveness and friendliness of the devised applications is also monitored by this group. This entity will also contribute to evaluate outputs and results of Demonstrators activities. The User Reference Group will be open to other municipalities, regions and other authorities and citizen associations willing to exchange ideas and research results in the domain of EQUAL.

Applications / Services

EQUAL cities believe that telematics should be adapted to the needs and background of the users, rather than trying to adapt the users to telematics.
These needs of users living and working in EQUAL Sites are multi-sectorial and strongly integrated: therefore they should be addressed in a comprehensive and broad way. Even if strongly inter-related, these addressed users requirements could be classified in four wide areas:

  • General municipal services to citizens, that could be defined as "Public information Services"
  • Mobility, environmental and emergencies services, that could be defined as "Urban Management Applications".
  • The complex transactions between citizens and local administrations - including multi-purpose payment means (smart cards) - that could be defined as "Public Transaction Services".
  • Educational, social and cultural underlying services for students, disabled and elderly people and interested citizens, that could be defined as "Cultural services"

Public information services to citizens

A first list of "standard services" will be included by all EQUAL Sites. In many cases this information is broadcast through Public Access Terminals/ Electronic Kiosks.
These services include information on:

  • Public offices timing
  • Procedures, forms utilised in local public offices
  • Basic laws/rules related to city life
  • Automatic certification
  • School services
  • Kindergarden places
  • Technological services (information on public services as water, gas, electricity, waste management, etc.)
  • Tourist information
  • and other "simple" and already working information systems focused on local public activity

Urban Management Application

  • Public services on mobile terminals
  • Environment monitoring and forecasts,
  • Traffic management linked to air pollution
  • Information on traffic and public transport

Transaction Services

  • Multifunction smart cards
  • Online public procedures & transactions

Cultural Services

  • Remote connections with local libraries, including distance learning functionality
  • Museum information archiving and public access

Facts and Figures

  • approx. 1100 person-months
  • 39% EC contribution (shared cost model)
  • 7 Contractors
  • 13 Associated contractors

Sphere of influence

EQUAL is expected to effect:

  • 1.300.000 inhabitants
  • 500.000 households
  • 200.000 personal computers
  • 80.000 Internet users
  • 8.000 contacts per day expected

Environmental Software and Modelling Group
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