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Holding her baby in her arms, a mother speaks into her digital television set, while a camera and microphone in the unit capture her voice and image. Miles away, a doctor watches his own digital TV screen, observing the baby and listening as the mother describes the child's condition.
That is part of Nagaaki Ohyama's vision of health care in Japan in 2011, when the country will phase out analog TV in favor of the digital technology that will also facilitate data transfer, including video and audio. To achieve this, and many other efficiencies in health care and government services, Ohyama argues Japanese citizens need a secure way to access and transmit personal data.
For Ohyama, who for years has been a leading advocate of electronic government as chairman of Japan's Next Generation IC Card System Study Group, that means giving every adult citizen a smart card with a digital certificate to provide secure access to a Web-based account containing information about an individual's medical history, insurance eligibility, pension benefits and other data.
Ohyama knows this will fly in Japan-where citizens are not required to carry an identification card-only if the services tied to this personal account are compelling.
"The main question is social acceptance," Ohyama said last month in a presentation at the Cartes conference in Paris. "In Japan, we don't have to carry an ID. They have a kind of allergy against ID cards...once we have services on an account, I hope they won't have an allergy to use smart cards any more."
Skip The Trip
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