Most urban centers in North America have access to quality high-speed Internet connectivity. However, often in low-income pockets of these same cities there are neighborhoods where residents cannot afford or have other barriers to accessing technology and Internet based resources. The North End of Winnipeg is one of those places. This project aims to identify specific needs and create local resources to overcome these “digital divides”. This project is a collective effort of several local community groups, technical experts, and researchers.
All participating groups share the belief that there is a problem with their client’s ability to access and safely utilize online resources and services and something needs to be done about it. Research shows that local community network projects can work to address both the technical and human constraints and even provide some local economic development along the way.
At this point, we are developing the stakeholders and refining the scope and goals of the project. As we discussed, local, trusted, rooted community groups are needed on the front end to help identify the problem(s), validate assumptions as to the root causes, and advocate for their clients in the development of the plan. These organizations will be those who first benefit from any products and/or services that this project develops by participating in pilot programs and research.