Headlines: March 15th, 2001

The divide between the information ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’is widening, but Manchester City Council is reversing the trend. The launch of a new interactive website giving residents in the pilot area the chance to gain information on local job opportunities, to respond to police requests for information, handle housing concerns and use other services at the touch of button has brought the Internet to over 400 people.The distinctiveness of this initiative is that it gives people the chance to take part in the pilot project by providing them with either a low cost computer or a free set-top box for use with their television together with Internet access at reduced rates. The project will also provide access to the Internet at selected community locations within the area.

The aim is to bring some of the latest advances in technology to some of the most deprived homes in the city. It will give ordinary people access to useful local information, providing them with a chance to learn ICT skills that may be useful for future training or job opportunities. It will also give them a chance to communicate quickly and efficiently with the City Council and other agencies.

Among the uses of the new website will be the chance for users to view their own rent accounts, book appointments with housing officers, report faults to their home, communicate with the Police and deal with problems of street lighting and cleansing. It will provide users with templates for CV’s and job applications as well as a comprehensive database of local jobs opportunities.

The pilot project has been developed through the New Deal for Communities Initiative, in partnership with the private sector led by local company ClicksandLinks Ltd. If the project objectives are achieved it will be rolled out across the city.