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June 26, 2009

The National eWell-Being Awards 2009

Improving people’s lives and the environment through ICT

In the week that saw the publication of the Government’s ‘Digital Britain’ report, an awards event was being held to recognise the work already being done by organisations to ensure that the benefits of a digital society are available to all.

The National eWell-Being Awards, conceived by the charity UK CEED and sponsored by BT and Unison, are now in their 7th year. The prestigious awards ceremony, held at the Royal Society of Arts in London, showcased the innovative application of Information Communication Technology by 33 finalists across the Award’s 9 categories.

The awards highlighted digital inclusion projects, such as the highly commended project ‘Essex UnITe’, which provides ICT training to older people in sheltered housing; and the winning entry, the Royal National College for the Blind’s ‘Robobraille’ project which offers a free of charge, email-based service where electronic documents can be translated into either synthetic speech or Braille.

The judges selected Brighton & Hove City Council as the overall winner of this year’s awards for ‘Talking Bus Stops’. In August 2007 Brighton & Hove became the first area in the UK to introduce talking bus stops for blind and visually impaired people. Using the RNIB’s React system to link into the city’s existing Bus Real Time Information signs, blind and visually impaired people are able to hear announcements at bus stops so they no longer have to rely upon their fellow passengers.

The awards also look at the positive contribution ICT can make to the environmental challenge we face. The work of companies such as TelecityGroup, Memset and Sweet and Maxwell in making data centres more energy efficient all received recognition from the judges. This year one organisation was singled out for special recognition for a true, long-term commitment to promoting and delivering sustainable IT. That organisation is Sheffield based desktop PC and server manufacturer, VeryPC.

In her keynote address at the awards, Sue Nelson, the science and environment writer and broadcaster, praised the finalists for being at the forefront of innovation in ICT for environmental and social improvement and encouraged other organisations to follow the best practice demonstrated by this year’s winners.

Following the event the dissemination of best practice will be further facilitated by the publication of an award digital magazine with details of all the highly commended and winning projects with film, photos and articles. The magazine can be found at www.sustainitawards.co.uk/winners2009.

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