Tony Blair today unveiled two new national IT initiatives - a smartcard scheme for young Britons and a database for recording and matching criminals' DNA.
In his speech to the annual Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth today, the prime minister revealed plans to issue smart cards offering travel and entertainment discounts to all 16 to 18 year olds who stayed in school.
The Youth Card is expected to be a form of ID, which could be used to store personal details, monitor enrolment and attendance at school, and also validate the payment of government allowances.
Bearers could also be entitled to discounts on Internet access, books, study equipment, travel and leisure. The government has called on the public and private sectors to help develop the scheme.
Trials are already underway to test the effectiveness of magnetic swipe technology in delivering a range of applications, as part of the government's Learning Card program.
Education minister David Blunkett said he welcomed today's announcement.
"We need to raise the aspirations of young people in learning and reward achievement," Blunkett said in a statement. "A Youth Card, utilising smart technology, would be a real learning reward card."
The scheme will probably result in a very large tender for IT services and infrastructure to implement the scheme, being announced shortly.
The Blair government has been talking up smartcard technology for some time, hoping the public sector can force corporates to take up multiple application smartcard technology at a faster rate than it has been.
Under a new Crime Bill to be announced in the Queen's Speech, the government plans to fund a database which will record the DNA of all known offenders, for cross matching with crime scene evidence.
"With the new DNA technology we have the chance to match any DNA at any scene of crime with those on police records," Blair told conference delegates. "Already thousands of criminals are being caught that way. But less than a fifth are on record." "I can announce we will provide the extra resources for a database where every known offender will have their DNA recorded, and evidence from any scene of crime will be matched with it," he said.
The smartcard scheme is expected to be introduced late next year, with around 1.8 million possible card holders in the age group. However, the scheme will be not be compulsory.
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