A partnership between local councils and Cityspace, a London-based new media technology company, has brought free access to on line services in the street. The pioneer project in the London Borough of Islington provides a ‘council channel’ which will include a range of services including facilities to pay council tax, rent and parking fines. There is also a free e-mail service. The latest facility to be added is payment of TV licence fees through the online services at www.TV-1.co.ukThere are also channels for entertainment and recruitment. Theatre seats can be booked and paid for on line and the recruitment channel takes the user direct to the Reed Recruitment Agency website.
The basis of the partnership is that that councils provide sites, free of charge, for the touch screen terminals which are located in high streets and other places busy with pedestrians. Cityscape provides a channel for council business also without cost. The venture is funded through advertising and the recruitment activity. The company does not receive any commission for providing the TV licence facility.
In addition to Islington, the service also operates in Kensington and Chelsea, Southwark, Bromley and Cardiff. It is planned to install 1,000 kiosks within one year and it is estimated that they will attract 2m users per month. A major attraction of the terminals is that they provide on line services to people who cannot afford Internet access.