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January 22, 2004

Sutton gets model citizen

From: Kablenet, UK - Jan 22, 2004

A London borough aims to encourage people to use its information kiosks with a virtual character

Sutton council has created what it claims is the UK's first "virtual citizen" on its official information kiosks.

The character, an avatar known as Grace, speaks eight different languages including sign language.

Grace appears on the council's touch screen information kiosks that provide access to transport information, local and community services, news and free email. The technology behind Grace was supplied by communications firm D A Group.

There are nine information kiosks, supplied by Cityspace, located throughout Sutton.

Joan Crowhurst, lead councillor for community engagement, said: "We are committed to making it as easy as possible for all our residents to contact the council in ways best suited to them and to overcoming language barriers as far as possible.

"Our kiosks are one means of contact which we want to be available 24 hours a day - we know many people prefer to use fast computer communications. In order to improve the service, the council is continually updating and extending its technology."

Sutton's information kiosks were accessed 117,000 times -- an average usage of 9,750 times per month, last year. The introduction of Grace during January 2004 is hoped to boost usage further.

Source: Kable's Government Computing