The Government's Wired Up Communities programme has received a welcome boost following a significant donation from Tiny Computers, writes Marc Ambasna-Jones.
The donation comprises £250,000 worth of software, including over 9,000 packages of GCSE revision material, entertainment titles, general knowledge and graphic design tools.
The software is destined for households in Manchester, Suffolk and Birmingham that are participating in the Wired Up Communities programme. The project aims to "bridge the digital divide" by introducing technology to people in some of the country's most deprived areas. It links people to a local community Web site and government services, as well as giving families an opportunity to learn together at home.
The Government has already invested £10m in the initiative, and a further £5m will be made available through the national E-Learning Foundation. School children in the target areas will be provided with their own computing devices, ensuring that every child gets individual access to IT.
"Wired Up Communities will help bridge the gap between those with access to modern technology and those without," said Michael Wills, minister for learning and technology. "Access to IT in some of the most disadvantaged homes in Britain will close the digital divide and help overcome barriers to economic regeneration. Wills welcomed the Tiny donation. "It will introduce participating households to a wide variety of computer packages, which they can explore from the comfort of their homes. This will enable them to develop their IT skills and is a real example of how families in the Wired Up Communities can enhance their lives using new technology," he said.
The Wired up Communities initiative was announced in April 2000 with the intention of connecting 14,000 homes in seven pilot areas to the Internet using a wide range of technologies. It aims to bridge the gap that exists between those who have access to technology and those who do not.
The capital expenditure from government funding is for infrastructure, either for hardware (PCs or set-top boxes), or for connectivity (broadband cabling, satellite provision). The software donation is an added bonus for the scheme, which has yet to budget for applications.
- The initiative provides Internet access and IT-based learning and entertainment for communities where income is low
- Although the project has state funding, this is for hardware and communications technology such as ADSL. Additional donations, particularly software are welcome
- Tiny's software donation covers a wide variety of topics for both children and adults. The project is about getting the entire family to learn about IT.