Monday, 20 April 2020

Donation of Huawei Tablets for Zagreb Families

ZAGREB, April 20, 2020 - Public Administration Minister Ivan Malenica and the Director General of Huwaei Croatia, Zhang Heng, on Monday visited Zagreb families who were left without their homes in the March 22 earthquake and are living in a student dormitory in Zagreb, donating to them Huawei tablets worth HRK 250,000.

The Chinese technology company donated 170 MediaPad T5 10 tablets to families affected by the earthquake.

Minister Malenica spoke with citizens about their everyday routine in the temporary accommodation, recalling the possibility of using digital services, which would help them in coping with their current situation, the ministry said in a press release.

"It is in situations like this that digitisation is the key and all its advantages come to the fore - even though we are distanced, we are connected," said Malenica.

We wanted to relieve the everyday routine for fellow citizens affected by the earthquake who were compelled to vacate their homes. We hope that these tablets will help the youngest keep up with online lessons and provide older users with access to timely information as well as facilitate contact with family members and serve as a way to occupy one's free time, Zhang Heng said.

More IT news can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Croatia Launches Andrija, First COVID-19 Digital Assistant

ZAGREB, April 14, 2020 - Croatia on Tuesday unveiled its first digital assistant to advise people how to diagnose and manage suspected COVID-19 infections.

This "virtual doctor", powered by artificial intelligence, has been developed by Croatian IT companies in cooperation with epidemiologists, including doctor Branko Kolaric, who said at the presentation that by developing the new COVID-19 service, Croatia followed the examples of South Korea and Singapore.

The digital assistant is available at https://andrija.ai/ and can be activated on WhatsApp under the name Andrija.

The digital assistant "Andrija" is named after Andrija Štampar, a distinguished Croatian doctor and scholar in the field of social medicine. From 1931 to 1933, Štampar worked as an expert of the Health Organization of the League of Nations. He also spent time in China, from 1933 to 1936, after the Health Organization sent him as an advisor to help the Chinese health administration in the control of mass infectious diseases that appeared after devastating floods in 1931.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's chief-of-staff Zvonimir Frka-Petešić said that the online health self-assessment tool was available to all Croatian smart phone users.

Kolarić said that the digital assistant was very helpful to the healthcare system as it could process tens of thousands of requests on a daily basis, while doctors can handle some 50 calls a day.

Public Administration Minster Ivan Malenica said that the digital assistant was a voluntary and anonymous application.

The companies that have participated in the development of the application are Mindsmiths, Neos, Oracle Croatia and Infobip, members of the CroAI artificial intelligence association.

The government praised the companies for working free of charge on this project, aimed at combating the spread of the coronavirus.

Mislav Malenica, the founder of the Mindsmith company, said that Croatia was a step ahead of other countries by having developed the digital assistant that provides users with personalised health advice and guidance.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 10 April 2020

e-Citizens Platform Registers 80,000 New Users

ZAGREB, April 10, 2020 - The e-Građani (e-Citizens) system is being used by a growing number of users due to the coronavirus epidemic and currently it has 934,762 users, with their number having increased by more than 80,000 in the period from April 1 to 8, the Public Administration Ministry said on Friday.

More than 860,000 passes have been issued via the platform's e-Propusnica (e-Pass) service, the ministry said, noting that the platform now provided 72 services.

Two new services have been developed - one that enables citizens with blocked bank accounts to access information on due payments and one enabling people living on islands to apply for island passes for persons and vehicles and access information on valid passes, travel information and submitted applications.

As for the e-Pass service, since its introduction more than 860,700 passes have been issued while more than 34,000 applications have been turned down.

Public Administration Minister Ivan Malenica said that given the experience so far, the ministry would continue to intensively digitalise the work of public administration.

The other services available on the e-Citizen platform make it possible for citizens to register the birth of a child, apply for a driver's licence and passport, access the register of births, marriages and deaths or view information on their chosen doctor, laboratory tests, therapies, etc.

Also, citizens can check their child's grades via the e-Dnevnik (e-Gradebook) service and use many other services available at https://pretinac.gov.hr/.

The ministry says that it has been in talks with the Health Ministry regarding service digitalisation and its connecting to the e-Citizen platform.

It notes that more new services will be introduced in the coming period, for example, one enabling citizens to pay for fiscal stamps online.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Croatia to Define Criteria for 5G Equipment Suppliers by Year's End

ZAGREB, February 1, 2020 - Following the European Commission's recommendations on 5G networks, the Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM) will define criteria for equipment suppliers wishing to operate on the Croatian market and will award frequencies for 5G by the end of the year, the regulator told Hina.

Earlier this week, the European Commission and the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) unveiled the so-called Toolbox for 5G, a joint response by all EU member states to possible cybersecurity risks related to the rollout of 5G networks.

Risks were assessed both at national level and at EU level, and HAKOM coordinated the risk assessment in Croatia.

The national task force coordinated by HAKOM now has to select tools from the EU Toolbox and define criteria for equipment manufacturers and suppliers that wish to operate in Croatia, while domestic operators will be able to purchase equipment and solutions from all manufacturers that meet the set criteria.

"As far as we know, all equipment manufacturers are interested in the Croatian market and we expect them to take the requirements that will be set before them seriously," HAKOM said, adding that it is important that Croatia coordinates its activities with other member states and that they all follow the joint methodology.

A public consultation on the award of frequency bands was held between 18 October 2019 and 20 January 2020, and HAKOM plans to award frequency bands for the implementation of 5G technology by the end of this year.

More IT news can be found in the Business section.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

U.S. Official Warns Croatia to Be Careful When Choosing 5G Network Equipment

ZAGREB, January 25, 2020 - The US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Cyber and Communications, Robert Strayer, said in Zagreb on Friday that the Croatian government and the private sector should take care when choosing the providers of equipment for the development of 5G network and services.

Advising Zagreb to be careful when selecting providers, he explained that this was important so that the country could protect itself against cyber-attacks and data insecurity in a timely fashion.

During his short stay in Zagreb, the US official held talks with representatives of local regulators, after which he held a news conference at which he said that during the procurement of equipment for the development of mobile networks and data security, one should take heed of potential future security risks.

Strayer says that Washington continues urging other countries to stick to clear criteria about the country of origin of software and hardware providers and in this context, he pointed out the criterion of the rule of law. This is necessary so as to avoid situations in which a government requests certain data from providers but they decline to provide them, he said.

Strayer criticised China for insufficient protection of both data and users of equipment made in that Asian country.

With the advent of the 5G network, which will offer plenty of useful public services, the security aspect is becoming more and more important, not only for governments and operators but also for all people, Strayer said.

According to him, Croatia and the USA share close views on a number of topics, including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, development of web services, digital technology and so on.

The USA finds cybersecurity to be one of the most important topics in the present-day world and Strayer visited Zagreb to become acquainted with the steps Croatia was taking in that regard.

When it comes to the development of the 5G network, companies such as Nokia, Samsung and Ericsson have great opportunities and the Zagreb-headquartered Ericsson Nikola Tesla certainly has a role in that, and all of them are producers of terminal and other equipment for mobile and fixed networks outside China, said the U.S. official.

The USA wants to cooperate with the European Union and European countries in the provision of equipment, including providers and telecom companies, with the aim of improving the security of data and networks, said Strayer.

He conveyed his country's concern over the use of technology made in China, mentioning Huawei and its products in EU member-states but also praised the EU and its member-countries for discussing the issue extensively and being able to control the supply.

More IT news can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Croatian Startup DotMetrics to Provide Web Analytics for British Websites

ZAGREB, January 21, 2020 - DotMetrics, a Croatian startup, has become the official web analytics system for British websites, winning the tender advertised by UK Online Measurement Ltd. (UKOM), a company established by Britain's leading publishers and advertisers, announced the startup on Tuesday.

DotMetrics won the tender in cooperation with Ipsos, one of the leading providers of advanced market research expertise in the world, leaving behind some of the top players on the global market of data collection, such as the US company comScore, announced the startup. DotMetrics added that it is officially taking over on 1 January 2021, and that it has signed a 5-year contract.

The startup did not reveal the value of the contract but according to unofficial sources, the job will bring in €40 million in 5 years.

DotMetrics said that so far it had provided web analytics services for neighbouring countries and that this was their first job in the West European market, with the UK being a special challenge to Croatian analysts as it was the largest advertising market in Europe and the third largest advertising market in the world.

"The Internet is by far the most important advertising channel in the UK, and budget allocation depends on the high-quality data. Furthermore, Great Britain is the 'Champion's League' of Internet advertising," DotMetrics CEO Jan Jilek said, adding that winning the tender for such a contract was a matter of prestige and an excellent reference for the future.

On that note, the startup has already begun negotiations on entering other European markets. Jilek points out that Croatia will remain the DotMetrics' hub, and that it will perform the analytics from Zagreb, meaning that the number of employees will rise more than three-fold. The number of employees is expected to continue growing in the coming years.

DotMetrics is an originally Croatian methodology developed by the FistNet company and Ipsos Adria, and it gathers website traffic data by marking and storing the whole traffic of a particular website and connecting it to demographic data from surveys and basic research.

More IT industry news can be found in the Business section.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Fewer Computers in Croatian Households, Mobile Internet Usage Up

ZAGREB, December 8, 2019 - Seventy-four percent of Croatian households have computers, two percentage points less than in 2018, while 81% have broadband Internet access, the national statistical office (DZS) has said.

The DZS conducted a phone survey on the use of information and communication technologies in 2019, covering 2,700 persons aged 16-74.

Of the households which did not have Internet access this year, 66% said the reason was that they did not need it, 46% said they did not know enough about it, 36% cited the high prices of the service and 35% the price of the equipment, while 3% said Internet was not available at their location.

Of the 81% of households which have Internet access, all have broadband, up one percentage point from 2018, and 70% access the Internet via mobile devices, up four percentage points on the year. Landline Internet connections dropped one percentage point to 87%.

Persons aged 16-54, students and people with jobs, are the biggest computers and Internet users.

Online shopping is also on the rise, by 10% from 2018, with 45% of respondents doing it. As in previous years, they mainly bought clothes and sporting equipment, household necessities, electronic equipment and cameras, while buying films, music, food, medication and software the least.

More IT news can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 25 November 2019

APIS IT Shared Services Centre Opened

ZAGREB, November 25, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković opened the APIS IT Shared Services Centre on Monday, a 362 million kuna project marking 55 years of the operation of this strategic company.

The Shared Services Centre (CDU), which is government 'cloud' IT infrastructure, will combine an enormous quantity of government data and facilitate data management with the ultimate goal of enabling the state to function without paper, which should lead to savings of 50%.

It was underscored at the opening ceremony that 85% of the project's value is being financed from EU funds, and that by the project's finalisation, expected in 2023, 300 state administration institutions will have been encompassed.

The project represents digital work stations for 110,000 civil servants in state administration who will have access to the CDU.

Congratulating API IT on its 55 years of work, Plenković underscored that this was a big infrastructure project for the state because digitisation and digital transformation was important for economic growth and better services for citizens.

"Both APIS IT and its Shared Services Centre, along with the Administration Ministry as its partner in the project, as well as the entire government, are working on a more efficient, transparent and responsible state administration which is something beneficiaries expect. This is also important for global competitiveness and we already have digital services for citizens and are introducing new ones," added Plenković.

Plenković said that work was under way on digitising the health, judicial, heritage and other systems in the country, noting that during this government's term, Croatia had climbed four places on the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), adding that some 40 digitisation projects worth more than 1.3 billion kuna were currently under way.

Administration Minister Ivan Malenica said that the state currently had projects valued at more than HRK 500 million, including e-business, e-surcharges, e-signatures and e-stamps, aimed at reforming the state administration.

For over 50 years APIS IT LLC has provided strategic, professional and implementation services to the public and government sector organisations in planning, development, support and maintenance of their information systems.

APIS IT is the State Electoral Commission's main partner. It employs 460 people, and was founded by the Zagreb City Assembly in 1964. Zagreb owns 49% of the company's shares and the state the remaining 51%.

More IT news can be found in the Business section.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Croats Spend Nearly 5 Hours per Day on Mobile Phone

ZAGREB, November 17, 2019 - A survey commissioned by Mastercard shows that Croatian citizens spend nearly five hours on their mobile phone on average, that 67% would use it to pay bills and that 82% are satisfied with the current digitisation level.

The Masterindex survey on the use of financial services in Croatia and the attitude to payment cards was carried out by the Improve agency in October on 1,000 respondents aged 18-55.

The findings show that nearly everyone uses a mobile phone for 4.7 hours daily on average. Eighty-four percent of respondents use smartphones and online chats, 82% use e-mail, 81% shop online, 79% browse the Internet, 74% use social media and 64% use mobile banking.

As for the daily use of digital services, 97% of respondents browse the Internet, 92% use social media, 85% have mobile phones with Internet access and online chats, 85% use them for e-mail and 73% for the weather forecast.

Compared with last year, social media are used a little less, while navigation, payment apps and video on demand a little more.

Eighty-two percent of respondents are satisfied with the level of digitisation in Croatia, up 4% from November 2018. However, 73% would like to see more innovation and digital services in healthcare, 53% in public administration, 49% in education, 21% in the judiciary, 20% in public transport, 16% in retail trade, 14% in financial services and 11% in telecommunications.

The youngest are the most critical of the level of digitisation and wish to see more progress in education, healthcare and public transport. The elderly would like to see more progress in public administration, healthcare, telecommunications and cars.

Mobile phone use is highest in the 18-29 age group, 5.5 hours a day on average.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents would be interested in using their mobile phone for online payments, up 6% on May 2019 but down 6% on November 2018. Mostly interested in this kind of payment are those with a monthly income of over HRK 12,000 (79%), respondents in the Slavonia (77%) and Lika (75%) regions, those aged 18-29 (72%) and those without any income (72%).

Fifty-nine percent of respondents are interested in contactless payment and 62% in payment by mobile app.

As an alternative to payment cards, 71% of respondents would choose their mobile phone for payment rather than another device or method, including 79% of those in the 18-29 age group and 86% of those with the highest monthly incomes.

Men use payment cards more than women, those with university degrees, older than 40 and with a monthly income over 5,500 kuna.

Eighty-nine percent of payment card users use them from time to time for online shopping, up 4% on May 2019 and 2% on November 2018.

Thirty-two percent of online shoppers use debit cards, 25% use PayPal, 23% use credit cards, 8% pay cash upon delivery, 7% use online banking and 4% pay by credit card in instalments.

More IT news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Computer Fraud on Steady Rise in Croatia, Police Say

ZAGREB, October 23, 2019 - Computer fraud has been on a steady rise in Croatia, the Police Directorate told a press conference on Wednesday on the occasion of European Cyber Security Month.

"In the first nine months of this year we recorded a rise in computer fraud of 10 percent compared to the same period last year. Most of the reported cases related to so-called CEO fraud where a person impersonating the CEO of the targeted company sends an email to the accounts department to transfer a sum of money to another account. There are also increasing reports of so-called Nigerian prince scams where naive citizens are asked to pay hefty sums," said Renato Grgurić, chief of cyber security at the Police Directorate.

Given that perpetrators of such crimes are from African countries, police have difficulty tracking them down because of a poor exchange of information with police services in those countries, while information exchanges with EU countries via Europol are more than good, he said.

Citizens were advised to be extra cautious when sharing personal data on social media and to make online payments using only secure websites. "Any suspected attempt of fraud should be immediately reported to the police," Grgurić said.

Svan Hlača of the National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) underlined the importance of raising public awareness of cyber security, with emphasis on network and information security.

He said that this year the National CERT would focus on maintaining the high level of security for internet users and using modern information and communications technologies given that the number of non-technical incidents relating to fraud, unsolicited emails and harassment was on a steady rise.

More IT news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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