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This company released news yesterday about a new interactive voice-response system. Here's the press release:

NIC Bridges Digital Divide with the World's First IntegratedWeb IVR Solution for eGovernment


Technology Enables Universal Access

To Web-based Services from Any Standard Phone

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., May 17 /PRNewswire/ -- NIC Technologies, a division of NIC (Nasdaq: EGOV), the world's largest eGovernment solutions provider, today announced the availability of the world's first comprehensive Internet-enabled interactive voice response system (IVR) for eGovernment enabling universal access to Web-based government services from any device -- including a standard phone.

Said Don Smeltzer, President of NIC Technologies, "Almost half of all Americans do not have Internet access. For eGovernment to realize its full promise and become a powerful tool for all citizens, we must create universal and ubiquitous access to eGovernment applications. Our Web iVR solution will help our government partners bridge the digital divide and serve more citizens through both Internet and voice technologies."

NIC's Web iVR(TM) solution is the world's first integrated system of its kind. Government agencies at all levels now have the ability to integrate multiple information and services through a single system. The solution supports Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) improving customer service and eliminating the need for frustrating traditional keypad-driven systems. The system converts text to voice through any touch-tone telephone. Citizens actually "listen" to the Web-based application via an interactive voice through a menu-driven interface. The solution also provides for interactive fax-on-demand of information, government forms and transaction receipts. The solution will also help governments exceed ADA requirements. Disabled Americans can access government information anywhere, anytime.

The system was initially developed based on a recommendation by the Michigan Department of State. Roland Gurk, Internet administrator for the Michigan Department of State (MDOS), was faced with a constituent relationship management challenge of integrating both Internet-based and traditional applications and solutions into one system with one database and eCommerce interface. MDOS was forced to manage two wholly separate technology architectures for both telecom and Internet users. Gurk was looking for a way to bridge the digital divide and provide universal access.

Said Gurk, "In addition to helping us deliver universal access, the NIC solution has the potential of streamlining our back office system saving us valuable time and resources. Integration means I can concentrate on serving citizens and businesses first. It simplifies my technology decision. We can now deliver eGovernment to everyone."

The NIC Web iVR solution has three main service components:

-- Web iVR Gateway(TM) -- A virtual switch that delivers private toll-free

Internet-ready telephony service to any government agency. Government

agencies can order their own Gateway solution over the Web. The toll- free number can be pointed to any Web server for citizen and business

applications. Agencies can order a regular dial-up connection or a

dedicated line if the agency expects more than 200,000 or more calls

per month. In addition to toll-free service, local dial-tone coverage

is also available in selected service areas including Lansing,

Michigan, Washington D.C., Sacramento, California, Little Rock,

Arkansas and Honolulu, Hawaii. NIC will continue to expand local

coverage area based on demand.

-- Web iVR Designer(TM) 2000 -- A what-you-hear-is-what-you-get authoring

tool for integrated applications. Based on a language HTML,

Government agencies can use the tool to author their own applications,

or they can choose to work with NIC or a third party on application

development. The first site license is free with the Web iVR Gateway

subscription. Additional licenses may be purchased separately.

-- Web iVR Voyager(TM) 2000 -- A voice-enabled Web browser that delivers

universal access to next-generation eGovernment applications. The

browser is based on a public domain language similar to HTML known as

Media Independent Presentation Language (MIPL). MIPL-capable browsers

can exploit the networked client/server architecture already in place

for the exchange of HTML documents. The browser is currently available

for Windows(TM) 95, 98 and 2000 and can be downloaded for free.

Said Don Armstrong, NIC chief technologist and one of the team developers of the Web iVR solution, "The solution will support almost any application. If it can be provided through an eGovernment portal, it can be provided through our system to anyone with a phone or a TDD device. This is true convergence and it is a testament to the government's leadership position as a driver of the Internet economy."

The beta preview version of the new Web iVR Designer 2000 is available today. The commercial version is scheduled for release in North America within 60 days. NIC will release other foreign language versions of the new Web iVR Designer 2000 and Gateway Service for European and Asian Governments by the end of 2000. For more information, or for a free eGovernment consultation call 818-865-1310 or 877-234-EGOV.



Jeanie
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