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Digital Inclusion Scheme Brings FREE WiFi to 200 Castle Vale Residents

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 (11:52 am) - Score 1,162
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The Castle Vale Community Housing Association (CVCHA) has teamed up with CommunityUK to launch a new digital inclusion scheme that will help over 200 residents in Castle Vale (Birmingham, England) to get online via a free wireless Internet connection.

The pilot ‘Digital Neighborhood’ project is supported by the City Council’s Digital Birmingham team. Meanwhile CVCHA, which manages 2,400 properties, already has plans to expand the scheme by encompassing the entire Castle Vale estate should it prove successful. A new local UKOnline Learning Centre will also be set up to support the project.

Peter Richmond, CVCHA CEO, said:

We want Castle Vale to become Birmingham’s first ‘Digital Neighborhood’. By tackling digital inclusion at many levels it will create the opportunities for people to connect with us and with friends and relatives, buy goods and services, access jobs and prepare those who need it for Universal Credit as well as being a test bed for trialing new applications and services.

We see this as the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential of this connectivity; it will not only help to bring us closer to our tenants but will also raise aspirations and support greater participation of residents in shaping the delivery of services and trailing new applications and services while opening up avenues for digital service provision for Castle Vale moving forwards.”

We support the idea of a community wifi service, although it’s important to note that Community UK’s service will only offer a basic level service (note: faster 4Mbps – 8Mbps premium options are available for a monthly charge from £3.99) and so probably not one that would threaten the local commercial ISPs.

It’s interesting to note that the project, if successful, has also hinted towards an ambition that would take it into other parts of Birmingham and the UK over 2014-2015.

Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    excellent work! doubt the online centre will be much good if they have to instruct everyone to tick boxes to useless lessons, but if the volunteers are good they can divert to what people really need to know and just tick the damn boxes anyway.
    We did a similar project in our rural area, and found almost everyone went online. We ran our own club where people could come and learn how to do stuff. At no point did we find the courses on offer from the council, libraries or online centres were what the people wanted to know. What we did find is if you taught one person something they passed that information on to at least 3 others. We found community and peer to peer is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Giving a connection for free is a great way to promote inclusion. We then found those same people were willing to pay for a conventional service once they found out what being online was all about. Unlike Brummies, these folk hadn’t got chance of a conventional connection, so they have ended up building their own fibre network! from tiny seeds… Go Brum.

  2. Avatar Sophia says:

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for providing this info.

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