By Paul Hemsley
Adelaide City Council has become the latest local government looking to plug into the National Broadband Network after the city’s Mayor urged potentially tech-shy citizens to learn online and web technology skills through the Digital Hub training program.
Mayor Stephen Yarwood wants digitally challenged citizens to participate in the program which follows council making significant technology upgrades upgrades to its communications infrastructure, including free outdoor Wi-Fi in the city centre from November 2012.
The push by councils to harness the potential community benefits of the NBN comes as federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy continues to hard-sell the massive project’s advantages directly to grass roots recipients.
Adelaide City Council this week sought community input into the city’s digital strategy “Connect Adelaide”, which aims to make Adelaide a “smart city” through access to modern technology. A key aim is more effective community engagement and feedback on decision making policies, services and projects.
The federal government is spendning $23.8 million between 2011 to 2014 to help create around 40 Digital Hubs in local government areas to bridge the so-called digital divide by giving otherwise disconnected community members the necessary skills to set up an e-mail account, use internet searches, shop online, access government services and connect with friends and family.
The measure is intended close the social and economic gap between people who are comfortable and competent using the internet and those who are not.
One concern for Canberra is that communities could become economically stranded if new technology is not taken-up, prompting the NBN Co’s move to create Digital Hubs throughout the country.
Although Adelaide is not technically a regional city, the federal government has provided funding to Adelaide City Council and its neighbouring council, the City of Prospect in July 2012 to create Digital Hubs for the individual local government areas. Adelaide received $630, 00and Prospect received $620,000.
Mr Yarwood said the Digital Hub will provide a comprehensive and up-to-date digital literacy training program to help narrow the gap between those who engage online and those who don’t.
“It fits well with Council’s commitment to ensure Adelaide is a well-connected and engaged city and means we’ll be able to provide expert training, assistance and advice to the community and local businesses,” Mr Yarwood said.
Digital Hub coordinator, Susan Rooney-Harding said training will be provided for all skill levels, especially for people with no prior experience.
“They will have the confidence to use the technology themselves. Training will be in small groups or one-on-one sessions,” Ms Rooney-Harding said.
Adelaide’s training program will begin in the week of 14th January 2013 in the local Grote Street Library.
People will need to contact the council to book their place.
CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story attributed funding for the Digital Hubs to the NBN Co. Funding for Digital Hubs has been provided by the federal government through the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
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