The Commonwealth Institute Monday launched of
eCommonwealth, a portal and
virtual meeting place for people and businesses in 54 member
Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon said the new portal
would help to forge electronic relationships that would become
the cornerstone of eCommonwealth.
“This new Internet facility will provide the Commonwealth with a
virtual meeting place where individual communities and businesses
can come together with their activities, conduct business or just
keep abreast of Commonwealth and world affairs,” said McKinnon.
Already there are 22 million people with Internet access in
the Commonwealth, a figure expected to increase to 50 million by 2002.
At eCommonwealth, users will have access to a directory that
monitors over 10,000 sites, plus services such as free e-mail,
voicemail messaging, telephony and teleconferencing.
eCommonwealth is designed to create online communities by
linking people with similar interests, putting them in touch
with each other according to criteria gathered from personal
profiles. It is expected to help businesses find new markets for
products, new suppliers for materials, while providing educators
with information from experts in different subjects.
U.K. knowledge management software company
Autonomy is providing
software to power the profiling and search facilities on
Mike Lynch, Autonomy’s chief executive officer, noted that it
was almost impossible to serve 54 different countries and cultures
manually. However, with Autonomy’s software, he said, the
Commonwealth Institute would be able to deliver information
and ecommerce based upon the needs and preferences of each
individual user, completely automatically.
“eCommonwealth plays to the strengths of the modern Commonwealth,
which is all about networks and communities of interest,” said
Commonwealth Institute Chief Executive David French, adding
that anyone in the 54 countries of the Commonwealth would
be able to use it.
Another partner in the venture is free Internet service provider
breathe, which is providing
portal services. At its U.K. portal, breathe also provides unified
messaging, Web calendaring, chat and mobility services, similar
to some of the services on eCommonwealth.