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partnerships:articles:types1 [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
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 +Who's who in providing community information
 +============================================
 +
 +\
 + ​[David Miller](mailto:​d.miller@sheffield.ac.uk),​
 +d.miller@sheffield.ac.uk wrote this article in 1997.\
 +
 +------------------------------------------------------------------------
 +
 +David Miller of the Department of Information Studies, Sheffield
 +University, developed the first Web site listing UK community
 +information networks (<​http://​panizzi.shef.ac.uk/​community/>​). Here he
 +distinguishes the different types of site under development.
 +
 +------------------------------------------------------------------------
 +
 +In the last few years development of the Internet has led to a massive
 +expansion of interest in the provision and use of electronic community
 +based information networks. The Internet provides a method whereby
 +information providers (i.e. local voluntary groups etc.) can take
 +control of the content and form of the information they wish to
 +provide.\
 +\
 + The Internet also allows access to a wide range of information that is
 +not specific to the local area but which also may be of interest, and
 +allows for the information provided locally to be accessed by users
 +outside the specific geographical location.\
 +\
 + In the early days, before widespread use of the Internet, Community
 +Information Networks (CINs) were usually based on video-text or
 +stand-alone PCs with the information content collated and updated in
 +some central location. Publicly accessible sites were made available
 +from which users could access this information. The information provided
 +covered topics from the opening times of local council offices, contact
 +points for various services to a detailed analysis of the performance
 +indicators of the local Health Authority.\
 +\
 + A small scale example of this type of system which we are all likely to
 +be familiar is the touch-screen systems developed by many local tourist
 +boards. These screens could be accessed from the local tourist board
 +office and would provide details on local hotels, sites of interest,
 +local entertainment etc.\
 +\
 + These systems were in the control of some local centralised authority,
 +and the decisions as to the information content, the frequency of
 +updating, the points of access etc. were made by the owners of the
 +system not by information providers or the user population.\
 +\
 + In my view the information provided in good CIN systems:-\
 +\
 +
 +-   Needs to be \`up-to-date'​
 +-   Needs to be easily accessible
 +-   Needs to be relevant to the region it seeks to serve
 +-   Needs to be free at the point of access
 +-   Needs to be \`owned/​controlled'​ by the community it serves.
 +
 +We have now seen an expansion in the number of CINs available
 +internationally and nationally and can begin to offer a typology of such
 +systems. They may be initiated and developed by different interests:
 +
 +### The local authority.
 +
 +These can be seen as a development of the earlier video-text type
 +systems, where the information is provided and controlled by a central
 +administration and the user is perceived as a \`passive recipient'​of the
 +information provided. This type of system aims to provide information on
 +the services provided by the authority, as an extension of information
 +also made available in \`dead tree' format. Funding for these CINs
 +usually comes from the local authority central budget.
 +
 +### Private sector initiatives.
 +
 +Small local internet companies which see a commercial advantage in
 +developing CINs and seek to provide such information as a way of
 +attracting visitors to their web site. These system are usually funded
 +by advertising revenue. Also in this category are the systems initiated
 +by the economic regeneration agencies (City Challenge etc.) which aim to
 +provide such systems as a way of assisting in the economic regeneration
 +of the region.
 +
 +### The user population.
 +
 +These are a new and exciting development. These systems are
 +characterised by a user-led, \`bottom up', development,​ with an initial
 +\`technology led' drive. A group of enthusiasts from various sectors of
 +the local community who perceive the benefits of a CIN, and understand
 +the potential of the use of the Internet as a delivery mechanism, join
 +together to form partnerships with other local information providers and
 +users with the aim of providing a local information service. One of the
 +many challenges facing CINs of this type is the securing of long-term
 +funding to ensure a sustainable and developing future.\
 +\
 + It is in this third type of CIN that the most innovative and exciting
 +developments are taking place. Cross sector partnerships are being
 +developed which bring benefits, both economic and social, and allow for
 +the active participation of the total user population. The information
 +content available on such systems is owned and controlled by the
 +providers themselves, as opposed to being mediated through a third party
 +and the providers are responsive to the requirements of the user
 +population.\
 +\
 + All of the CINs of this third type are in the early stages of
 +development. Different CINs have different sets of partners and
 +different forms of \`ownership',​ some charitable based and some as
 +public limited companies. There are many models of development of CINs
 +of this type, but they can be seen to have a similar set of \`core
 +values'​ around the issues of \`openness',​ \`access'​ and
 +\`participation'​.\
 +\
 + Many of the more forward-looking local authorities and regeneration
 +agencies are actively supporting the development of CINs of this type as
 +a way of servicing their own information provision requirements and
 +ensuring community participation.\
 +\
 + ​Developments of this type form the basis of the Information Society.
 +They allow and encourage the active participation of individuals as part
 +of the local community and thus as part of the wider community. They
 +provide a vehicle for the provision of training and support in the
 +skills required to operate successfully in this new society. They aim to
 +be inclusive and thus address the issues of \`information rich vs
 +information poor'​.\
 +\
 + They give a concrete reality to the oft expressed need to ensure that
 +individuals from all levels of society are the beneficiaries of the
 +development of the Information Society.
 +
 +------------------------------------------------------------------------
 +
 +email:- <​d.miller@sheffield.ac.uk>​\
 + ​[http://​www.shef.ac.uk/​uni/​\~is/​home.html\
 +](http://​www.shef.ac.uk/​uni/​~is/​home.html)
  
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