Published on: 23/06/2008

The initiative integrates different generations and facilitates access to the Internet for elderly people. The politically independent initiative works against the digital divide in Austria and is supported by all the senior citizens organisations and the Austrian Senior Council. The intended long-term impact of the initiative is on the one hand an increased awareness of this digital divide, on the other hand an increased number of elderly people interested and trained in IT-skills. is the biggest Internet platform for the elderly generation and catches the interest of more than 4 million visitors a year. The portal provides relevant information on different themes for older people. Users can create their own content, communicate via weblogs, chats and participate in creativity contests.

Policy Context

The consequences of digital divide are exclusion, training in isolation, a growing incomprehension between young and old and a lack of access of elderly people to eGovernment services. In March 2008 the Internetoffensive Österreich was founded under the honorary patronage of the Austrian chancellor Gusenbauer and vice chancellor Molterer. The aim is the collaboration of stakeholders from information and communication technology (ICT), scientific and technical institutions, public funds and private enterprises to develop propostions for a national ICT strategy to position Austria as a leading ICT nation. The usage of broadband (50% private accesses) should be increased. works in several working groups of the Internetoffensive Österreich in the range of eInclusion, eParticipation and digital divide.

Description of target users and groups

The main target group of is Austrians elderly generation. More than 2,5 Mio. people in Austria are older than 50 years, 1,8 Mio. older than 60 years. 900.000 of them are members in the elderly people´s associations.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

"Seniormedia marketing“ is integrated in the "echo mediahouse“, a Viennese communication specialist with various business divisions as print and internet media, public relations and advertising, events and community TV. They publish in magazines with the main emphasis on sports and culture, youth and senior citizens. The “echo mediahouse“ combines 11 affiliates and employs 280 staff experiences various synergy effects with other "echo“ companies. They cooperate with "echonet” for technical solutions. Seniorkom employs many editors to care for the wide-ranged content. They steadily work with focus groups to improve their offers and applications. Steadily the use of new technologies is being considered. Lately they incorporated new Web 2.0 features. Concerning the education in the Austrian schools, they follow a mature approach. Seniorkom employs project managers who supervise the events. The webcommunity is guided by their staff. They provide wide-ranged assistence and guidance for their users which obtain train-the-trainer education for the target group.

Technology solution

The project is realised on a LAMP-server-architecture. A proprietary content-management-system based on PHP and SQL-databases is used. Therefore open standards and open source products are used (like mySQL as database). implements content-syndication for example with the Austrian governmental page The website itself is coded in the XHTML 1.0 Strict-standard. The content is also published to be used on other devices than a computer.

Technology choice: Standards-based technology, Mainly (or only) open standards, Accessibility-compliant (minimum WAI AA)

Main results, benefits and impacts

All the participants of the Seniorkom events benefit in a special way: By means of the trainings that transcend the generations, the elderly people and the pupils will learn from each other. The elderly people who possess minimal IT knowledge learn about new functions of the computer and about new possibilities of the Internet. The pupils learn how to convey information to other people. By means of the platform, the regional branches of the elderly people's association and by taking part in fairs, training marterials is provided to new multipliers and end users. The commercial partners support with technical knowhow (f.e. accesses from Telekom Austria, software from Microsoft Austria). The collaboration builds on political and commercial partners. The project reaches the target group through a classical advertising and communication campaign. Press conferences are organized in all the federal regions. The media partners are the Austrian print media, Internet platforms, public television (ORF) and radio. The elderly people's associations and their publications, which periodically inform the readers about, are important partners. For example, "Unsere Generation" (Our Generation) is the most important magazine for elderly people in Austria reaching 5.5 million readers a year. For the communication with the schools and the pupils, the biggest partners are the School Councils of the several regions (they represent all the teachers and the pupils). All the important print magazines and web pages for the young are adressed. is the first and only initiative that integrates different generations and enables internet access for senior citicens in Austria. is the only platform which combines interactivity, user generated content, user participation and community building with comprehensive professional content and regional information (international benchmark). It also offers IPTV and conceives a special webradio for senior citizens. Seniorkom cooperates with (the official central Austrian portal to guide citizen and businesses through public services) and offers content syndication from this portal for our users. They have partners in several relevant organisations f.e. for the Austrian federation of content industries. They support the “Internetoffensive Österreich” and all the initiatives of the Austrian Council for the Aged. They support the ministry for social affairs with editorial work (f.e. for the initiative “safer internet”) Especially in the last 2 years the possibilities to combine several partners in the fight against digital divide increased. Politics, economy and public authorities work together with senior organisations and multipliers.

Return on investment

Return on investment: €1,000,000-5,000,000

Track record of sharing shares the experiences with the target group with many other groups like the Austrian Council for the Aged, enterprises working with senior citizens and public organisations. They organise press cenferences, and present at several symposiums and expert discussions. They work with the target group itself and offer focus group discussions (f.e. for eGovernmental solutions). This year, offers for the first time the Seniorkom school project 2008. tries to interconnect people young and elderly contributing to the mutual understanding between the generations. From the start they aimed to make politics, public and the commercial sector sensitive to the problem of digital divide. The awareness of the importance of eInclusion could be absolutely increased. Constantinus Award 2004: UBIT - the Austrian National Professional Organisation for Management Consultancy and Information Technology has created the CONSTANTINUS award to promote excellence in consulting and IT-services. The CONSTANTINUS has become the leading national award for knowledge-based services in Austria and has been recognized by the Austrian Federal Government as the sole qualifying process for the Federal State Award (Staatspreis) 'Consulting/Knowledge based services'. Jury Award: Staatspreis für Multimedia und e-Business 2005 In 2005, won the Jury Award at The Federal State Award for multimedia and eBusiness. This award is organized by the International Center for New Media and the Austrian Ministry of Economics.

Lessons learnt

Lesson 1 - Connecting the generations: By learning together with the help of the new technologies, the present barriers between the elderly and the young are reduced. Only those who understand the others' problems accept the interconnection of the generations, both virtually and in interpersonal relationships. Lesson 2 - Sustainability and utility of the internet: A major aim of the initiative is its durable effect. The communication of the young with the elderly will be promoted after the "official" trainings. Smaller groups are thus formed and they may get together after the training sessions to offer mutual help. A snow-ball effect thus occurs and it transcends the "teacher and pupil" framework. The knowledge transmitted through the training will help the elderly not only to have access to the Internet, but also to improve their life standards with the help of the possibilities offered by the digital world. eGovernment-Features help them to avoid travelling, they may overcome their loneliness in chat groups and they may take part in online bids. Lesson 3 - Enhancement of the elderly´s activity. provides many features of interactivity. Users can discuss with others in the chats and panels. They find new friends, and they are blogging. They organise creativity contests: users send pictures, videos and literacy and create a "website for senior citizens to senior citizens“. creates virtual communities as well as real possibilities of connecting people: national, international and intergenerational.

Scope: National