Considering Community

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					e-Community story so far

th e    s t ory      s o    f ar

Contents                                                        Page

Considering Community (Strategic Brief)                      Prologue

Introduction               An Overview

Background               Current Local Picture                     5

                         Common Objectives                         6

                        Strategic Framework                       6

Vision:                 Towards 2023                               9

The Challenge                                                     12

The Opportunity                                                   13

Access:                  The “How?” Factor                        10

                         Broadening the Channels                  11

                         CommunityWise                            16

                         Layers of Engagement                     17

Users:                   The “Who?” Factor                        20

                         The Stakeholders                         21

                         Examples explored                        21

Content:                 The “What?” Factor                       23

                         Assisting in Content development         24

                         Bringing Content to Life                 25

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Assessing Involvement                     25

Delivery                                  27

The Priorities                            28

The Targets                               31

The Outputs

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Considering Community                                                                      1.2.1
Developing Blackpool’s “c-side”
Catalysing Community using modern Information and Communications, a Strategy and
Development Plan

John Rudkin, e-Community Manager, Education, Leisure and Cultural Services Dept, Blackpool
Borough Council, 2003.

All comments and suggestions please to:

This strategic document is intended to provoke discussion by examining the existing Blackpool
community/ies actions and the focus on deliverables that will benefit the widest possible audience. It is
primarily built upon some of the work already carried out by the e-Community Group, the Borough Council
and with the assistance of the parties from a range of disciplines. This document is not an end in itself, but a
snapshot of an evolving vision and implementation underpinned by a structure and flexibility to react to
change. It is intended that the e-Community is informed and guided by the Community from its outset. As
such the establishment of levels of cooperation and activities to develop it and to populate its capacity will
be in the hands of the Community of the town, but will be supported and championed through the Blackpool
Borough Council.

What is a Community?
         A Community consists of individuals, groups and organisations in a complex web of
         interconnected relationships and interactions with bound by belief, location, purpose or interest.

        1. Local groupings based on proximity and sometimes face-to-face relationships
           (as in local community, community work);
        2. Community of interests (as in research community, business community); and
           characteristics (as in ethnic community).
        3. Quality of relationships - sharing of common goals, values, identities;
           participatory decision-making and symbolic production; and connected with
           these - emotional and moral investments.
        4. Virtual communities are: "social aggregations that emerge from the Net when
           people carry on those public discussions long enough, with sufficient human
           feeling, to form webs of personal relationships"

                                    Howard Rheingold 1993, "The Virtual Community"


“e” in the usual context of e-Community refers to “electronic”. This word imposes its own
stereotype and technological speak, which also tends to impose capability assumptions. It
is proposed that we defocus on the electronic and define the e-Community in much more
inclusive language:

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  and then …………..electronic
While the “e” is always important, and comes first in the term e-Community, the fact that this is a
Community of people first and foremost is the most important consideration, – a point that should never be
overshadowed by Technology coming first!

Technology in itself cannot catalyse community spirit, although it might provide a level of interest for a
certain cohort of people. It is only by defocusing on the technical that we get to the real driver of Blackpool
as a Community. We are looking to evolve Blackpool as a Community, and as such we need to ensure that
in all we do we cut through the unfriendly jargon and acronyms and look to raise awareness of what the new
technologies can actually deliver to enhance what we need and want to do. The e-Community strategy
focuses on the development of the potential of Blackpool’s residents, on the skill level of all citizens in the
Borough by considering the community as a whole. It must be as inclusive and accessible as is reasonably
possible and lead the way by being capable of evolving. There are numerous organisations that provide
community support across the Borough, but only through none threatening awareness raising will real
adoption be possible. Once awareness is raised, so technology starts to be adopted, applied and eventually
culturally accepted.

What this strategy is aimed to do is bring these players together with a shared vision.

Every part of Blackpool will be touched by this strategy.

An e-Community is an electronic Community. Not the best of names, but primarily electronic technologies
such as computers, mobile phones, digital devices are the means to extending the community. A community
is? The definitions are left until later, but everyone has their own idea, and their own “sense of belonging”
within Blackpool.
“c”-side referred to in the sub title, is the creation of the e-Community Manager, and refers (somewhat
tongue in cheek) to seaside but really homes in on “c” = community.

So, what does the e-Community offer that the community as it currently stands does not?

The e-Community is more an enhancement – and addition to – the community. It should be seen as a natural
development, proving the opportunities to use new methods of information services, new method of
communication, new means of participation though the introduction of technologies widely know as
enabling technologies, as they enable people to do things differently, more easily, in more places, anytime
that suits them. What does this mean in practice?

Blackpool has been a leading light in the North West, indeed in the UK, with its developments around the
Blackpool Interactive Grid. The grid is actually a series of Internet connections between and to the Council,
the schools, and the colleges and to a number of local community groups. This has been a key foundation,
and building on this, the aim is to widen access for the whole community. Access is fine, but the question
then is why? What could the community use this for?

Blackpool is unique in many ways, but no less so than in its focus on tourism and leisure. Recently the
growth has been in a facet of that focus, clubs, and that facet attracts a whole new audience. Blackpool is

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not just about tourism though, and we want to attract people into the area, not just as holidaymakers, but as
employment makers, i.e. we want regeneration and growth to diversify the development of the town. This
regeneration is beginning with the Master Plan. The recent start of work on the Solarium (as a high tech
incubator). This is about developing a better connected, skilled, informed Blackpool. We need to use the
talents in the town, attract more and develop – along with the whole coast, and understand how we can
leverage this into developing the whole North West.
The formation of regional agencies task with encouraging digital developments are ideally timed, and a
community that can show its willingness to adopt and adapt with the assistance of technologies will gain
from funding and opportunities. The role of the council will be to ensure that the locals, businesses and
other interested parties are able to get information and advice to make the best of this.

There is a danger that, as with all new developments, there is the growth of language that suits those who
are engaged closely with them. This is no truer than in technology, indeed in anything to do with computers.
It is the “shorthand” of communication, the jargon, but it also has the disadvantage of being a blocker to the
understanding of many people. It is this „many‟ we are concerned about in considering the Community.
While there will be jargon in use, this summary attempts to cut through that, and the language shorthand
will, wherever possible, be explained – so apologies to those “in the know” – but the Community needs this
approach in order that the message is clarified, understood and then adopted. That way the „many‟ will see
its value and engage with the e-Community, rather than be put off or confused. We need to think in a similar
way about the technologies we adopt. They too need to be equally treated to scrutiny, and we must insist on
simplicity and the intelligent use of the undoubted power at our disposal. These developments need to be
complimentary and accessible to all community members, not just the advantaged few. Cost is also an
important priority – involvement should not be precluded by social status or affordability. In other words
there has to be a way that it can be used freely. This has already begun very successfully the development of
facilities in Libraries and Learning Centres, part of the exciting Libraries Strategy, refered to elsewhere in
this document.

At this point it important to reflect on the document and understand where the new technology comes into
play. It is an enhancement for the Community, but in itself it can become a powerful vehicle in providing
opportunities and directions that have not even been thought of.

It is important that while Blackpool Borough Council plays an important role in establishing this strategy
we understand that it is the needs of the Community that will direct its future development. The hope is that
by developing a facility that will eventually be accessible via a wide range of media, information, advice,
collaboration, debate, interaction, creativity and community participation will grow and evolve. Much like
the Blackpool Tower, at the turn of the century, this e-Community needs to be a new landmark for
Blackpool in the new millenium.

Education, Leisure and Cultural Services
Contact: Blackpool e-Community Manager
01253 478103

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Current Local Picture
Blackpool is a town of 142,000 inhabitants and 7,000 businesses. It also welcomes 16.5 million visitors a
year from across the country and beyond. It is well served by communications links, with the M55, an
airport and a fairly good quality telecommunications infrastructure.

Blackpool‟s business community is dominated by small to medium enterprises, with over 90% of those
being companies with less than 10 employees. There is a very strong emphasis on Tourism with over 3000
tourism providers. Employment levels are below the national average, wage rates are lower than the
national average and there is a strong emphasis on seasonal employment. This strategy will look to raise the
skills level of all citizens and businesses in the Borough. Business Link North West Lancashire provide
business support covering ICT through UK online for business advisers, and tourism providers receive
additional support for ICT through Lancashire Tourism Partnership, however, this strategy will look to
challenge the quality of these services to demonstrate that value for money if being achieved.

Blackpool and The Fylde College has been playing a significant role developing the skills of local residents,
in terms of usage of ICT and in developing digital services. It is a still a trailblazer forward winning courses
in Digital Media, and is highlighted regionally as a centre for excellence in the subject. The College is also
heavily involved in the Learn Direct/Blackpool Community Network (BCN) along with SureStart.

Blackpool‟s libraries are well served by ICT with the People‟s Network fully in place and operational.
Recently announced changes in the Library strategy will provide richer access points through the
development Learning Centres and outreach workers in the Community.

Partners in the voluntary sector are also striving to ensure access and usage of ICT (Information and
Communications Technologies) is part of the norm. Age Concern, with their Internet café for “silver
surfers”, opens up opportunities for citizens to access the Internet in a safe environment.

The Parish Centre at St Christopher‟s is heading up access at real grass roots community level, offering
courses and drop in session to members of the community in a friendly environment at very local level.

Council for Voluntary services, CVS is working with community groups to introduce a Community
Empowerment Network and operates a well-established PC Recycling scheme that provides refurbished
PCs for community groups and organisations.

These examples indicate just some of the activity that is taking place now. What is planned for the future is
even more exciting.

Blackpool was the first town to have the electric light and it was the first town to have a tram system. Such
a rich technological heritage is now being brought into the 21st century as Blackpool is aiming to be the first
town to have a fully integrated e-Community strategy.

Information and Communications Technologies have revolutionised the way we live, work and learn, and
the pace of this revolution can only increase. Always bearing the degree of complexity in mind, it is clear
that as technologies mature they both become simpler, more specific and lower in cost.
 Intelligent phone systems, contact centres, e-mail, mobile telephony and the Internet are all ways of
communicating using technology – and every one has become more easy to operate.
The opportunities are there for economic and social regeneration, for enlarging markets for business, for
improving community access to ICT and creating new jobs. Blackpool‟s schools offer young people the
opportunity to embrace technology from an early age. Blackpool and The Fylde College and adult learning
service strive to ensure an ICT skilled workforce of citizens for the future. The e-Community strategy will
propel people through the lifecycle, whether through school, college, workplace or in the home - cradle to
grave engagement as the mantra.

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Blackpool, as a community, has fully bought in to the concept of sharing infrastructure and services to
deliver a community-wide culture. The Council, with partners, is working towards their corporate and
community goals, with regeneration of the town and surrounding area vital to supporting the delivery of
quality services to stakeholders and citizens. Citizen and business input is a vital part of community

Part of our vision is to make Blackpool a “vibrant, healthy, inclusive, safe and prosperous town”.

The partners of the e-Community strategy have a good record of working together, meeting regularly to
raise awareness, share best practice and co-ordinate activity. This team is known as the e-Community
Partnership and has agreed a vision and common set of objectives.

        “To develop and deliver a coherent approach to ICT access and use of ICT within the
        community working in partnership with local people and organisations.”

Common Agreed Objectives
    Common Agreed                   Short term          Medium term actions             Longer term
       Objective                     actions
 To design an appropriate      Development of          Integration of „best of       Ongoing
 e-community delivery          CommunityWise           breed‟ solutions into CW.     development. Major
 model to offer accessible     (CW).                   Agree features with           review annually.
 community facilities.         Exploration of          eComm Group/users.            eCommerce,
                               commercial tools.       External funds generation     Reinvest to further
                                                                                     develop model.
 Provide our community         CLC (City Learning      With Adult Community          Develop training.
 with access to a              Centre)                 Learning and partners,        Create trainers with
 comprehensive range of        Planned upgrade         create a mapping of           capacity to cascade
 ICT facilities and support    across Libraries.       training opportunities (all   training.
 to enable the use of          New Learning            levels).
 these facilities.             centre at Palatine      Access to loan equipment
                                                       for external content
 Consult with customers        eCommunity group.       Following awareness           Development of
 to ensure that high           Identify willing        raising experiences, create   Content development
 quality, relevant services    trialing of             programmes to meet the        expertise.
 are delivered that meet       CommunityWise.          needs. Integrate training
 expectations and need.        Explore options         online via CW
 Develop local people to       Plans for appointing    Training development of e-    Look to qualification
 be e-champions to             e-champions &           champions/outreach. Work      or certification
 support community ICT         outreach workers for    with NWDDA to find            nationally.
 development.                  Layton Palatine         sympathetic training
 Work towards                  Consultancy over        Open events to highlight      Seek new funding
 maximising external           Heritage bids.          opportunities for external    sources. Create an
 funding opportunities to      Working with Prof       support, funding and          environment that is
 support expansion and         Molyneux to create      business advice. Links to     supported by external
 services development.         cooperative             other groups. Specialist      agencies. Tie into
                               programme for bids.     services to support bids      Business Link
 Establish the e-              Strategy in draft       Evolution of the strategy     Set up „technical‟ and
 Community Partnership         Agreement by            and plan. Bring in external   „developmental‟ sub-
 as a formal forum for the     Partnership             advisers/trigger events       groups. Annually
 delivery of the e-                                                                  review and 6 monthly
 Community strategy and                                                              organization
 action plan.                                                                        inclusion.
 Develop and                   Currently this exists   Map interactive database      Update with National
 communicate a directory       in parts, need to       driven training advice        and selected
 of facilities and e-          unify..                 linked to outreach and        international
 community services.                                   trainers/mentors              examples.

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Strategic Framework

The Government‟s Modernisation Agenda has introduced a flexible framework for the development of local
strategies and plans. Through national, regional and local initiatives significant progress is being made to
provide and encourage new technologies within the community. The school‟s National Grid for Learning
and the Libraries Peoples Network initiatives are good examples where a joined up approach has been
successfully established. Partnership working offers more scope to meet the real needs of the community
through consultation and engagement, joint delivery and best use of resources. Often the sheer number of
confusing options and initiatives, policies and programmes can in themselves cause problems. There has
been a demand to change this and the e-Community Strategy will seek to address this through a regular
review of relevance, reporting to the e-Community partnership on a regular basis. The DfES “Developing a
Unified eLearning Strategy” is an attempt to bring together a wholistic strategy, fronm the confusing raft of
Government Inititaives, and make sense of their place. It was very much in mind as this strategy was
created, in October 2003.

Blackpool‟s Corporate Plan provides us with a unique opportunity to:

                 Create a new Blackpool Borough Council

                 Deliver Quality Services

                 Develop Community involvement.

Throughout the strategy formulation we will also to consider the following priorities:

             1.   Promoting Lifelong Learning

             2.   Building communities and citizenship

             3.   Regenerating the economy

             4.   Improving well-being

We can achieve this by:

           Bringing together the very best of the traditional values that make Blackpool what it is ------

           Exploring what it is that will ensure we catalyse Blackpool‟s popularity with residents and
           visitors alike while taking into account changing expectations, times and opportunity.

We have a great opportunity to look to the various funding streams e.g.:

                 European          i.e. ERDF, ESF etc.

                 National          i.e. NGfL, NOF, Lottery etc.

                 Regional          i.e. NWDA, RDA, Regional etc.

                 Local             SRB, NRF, Partner Investments etc.

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e-Community Partnership current outputs and achievements
Blackpool is a town of many diverse and interwoven communities. The e-Community strategy has been
evolving with local people and communities at its heart of it since 2002. Technology provides the potential
mechanisms and tools for enhancing the Boroughs communities by evolution, opening up new ways that
individuals and groups embrace involvement, contribution, creative thinking and innovation. Blackpool has
a solid foundation in terms of its infrastructure development but it is accepted that there is still much to do.
The transformation into a “can-do” culture is a priority, and this must be developed and nurtured for the
good of the whole community.

The e-Community Partnership has been meeting for some time. Some of the key agreed outputs achieved so
far, by partners in the group included:

        All schools are connected to the Internet at broadband level through NGfL.                            √
        All libraries are connected to the Internet at broadband level through the People‟s Network and       √
         163 computers are available free of charge to the public in the library network.
        Enhancement of services for accessibility.                                                            √
        Age Concern and St Christopher‟s parish centre are connected to the Internet via broadband.           √
        Blackpool and The Fylde College in collaboration with the Council have ICT centres                    √
         connected via broadband to the Blackpool Community Learning Network.
        Blackpool Tourism website has been developed.                                                         
        Three on street kiosks (i-Plus kiosks) have been installed.                                           √
        Blackpool and The Fylde College have been successfully included in the New Technology                 √
         Institute project headed up by UCLAN and Lancaster University.
        Education, Leisure and Cultural services through Excellence in Cities has established an              √
         enhanced network of community access points, including the Blackpool CLC with its unique
         facilities consisting of Library, UK Online Centre, Cyber café and Adult Learning facilities.
        Planning has been approved for a new family access centre at Palatine with enhanced                   √
         community facilities. Plans are underway to develop Community „e‟ facilities at most libraries
         in the new services from 2003 onwards.
        CommunityWise has been investigated and piloted to provide personal sign on including                 √
         authentication, e-mail, access to a community channel, local public service channel and access
         to UK online and the government gateway for national public services and an e-learning
        A community partnership between Blackpool Schools, Lifelong Learning, Blackpool and the               √
         Fylde College, Granada Learn Wise and Blackpool Council‟s new Access to Services
         programme has been established to develop one single point of access for the Blackpool
         Community Portal – CommunityWise.
        Solaris, a development aimed at economic regeneration and diversification in the south of             √
         Blackpool will see a new visitor‟s Centre and a high tech‟ incubator housed in the Blackpool
         Solarium building. The opportunity for Community will come with the opening of a Cyber café
         and access to business advice services.
        Development of has commenced as the forerunner to a community                   
        Housing services are being mobile enabled with Compaq i-PAQs.                                         √
        A broadband bid is being developed to access funds from the Northwest Broadband Fund.                 
        600 Council staff has undertaken ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) qualification in            √
         partnership with Blackpool and the Fylde College. All new council staff members are provided
         with e-mail access and basic ICT induction training.
        All library staff members are trained to ECDL as the norm to assist the public to use ICT in the      √
        A successful ICT in the Community Open Day Event was held of 18th April 2002, which raised            √
         the profile of ICT across a wide range of attendees.

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A schedule for further developments of the listed outputs, and for developments directly arising from this
strategy are listed at the end of this document.
These actions have given Blackpool a powerful grounding and experience in determining what is require by
its representatives, and brought together a diverse representation of the Stakeholders in the Borough. This
groups make up will be reviewed 6 monthly, and it is hoped that over time, new members will come
forward. There are other actions which have been discussed and agreed in principle amongst partners, and
which can now be brought into perspective.

This e-Community strategy looks beyond access to computers and the Internet, it relies on affordable and
reliable access to all forms of new technologies and the inclusion for all. Faster Internet access will
overcome the perception of the worldwide wait (www), which, along with complexity has put many people
off using the Internet in the past.

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       Vision: towards 2023
      “Our vision is for a Blackpool that is a vibrant, healthy, inclusive, safe and prosperous town where
      technology acts as the catalyst to people from all walks of life enabling a delight in involvement,
      inspiration, knowledge, and a community spirit”

      Blackpool has the opportunity to engage the community at all levels yet at the same time ensures that we
      aim to implement our strategy in such a way as to:

                   Enhance existing strengths through integrity openness and cooperation

                   Enhance democracy and access to services, information and guidance

                   Ensure equality of access, provision and opportunity

                   Develop from our “hidden” strengths with particular attention to future economic growth
                    thereby strive for “best value”

                   Look to share best practice as well as learning and sharing ideas within Blackpool,
                    Lancashire the Northwest and wider, working in partnership.

                   Catalyse economic potential and employment and setting an example.

                   We need to reduce focus on limitations and talk about what is/could be possible.

      This strategy is about building these visionary and practical initiatives, and from the Community‟s
      perspective to develop an achievable e-Community model

               Taking the analogy of a journey, many traveling aids exist for travelers, compasses, signposts,
               maps, guides, and radio and telephone traffic reports. Well-implemented ICT should provide the
               equivalent of free Satellite Navigation with all of the bells and whistles and the ability to “reroute”
               at any time, but should not preclude the casual travel amble. In much the same way that various
               sources of information ensure that people are informed about their journeys, so ICT can offer NEW
               options that add to (and may begin to replace) traditional means of information and facilitation.
               You might simply get on a bus and let someone else think about the journey. That is informed free
               choice and individual preference.

We have the opportunity
to broaden horizons                                                              Local factors can restrict an individual‟s
and open up new                                                                  perceptions and values.
                                                                                                    Opportunity and influence
                                                                                                    from the community can
                                                                                                    bring new directions and
                                                                                                    the motivation to engage
                                                            Influences                              and change individuals


      e-Community story so far 25/05/05                                                               Page 11 of 36

           The individual is provided with an opportunity to broaden their view of the world
e-Community story so far

Every person in Blackpool is already part of a community.
Individuals interact with others. Groups form by common interest or action, and communities form out of a
desire for inclusion, common participation and interaction. What makes community begin to really take on
reality is the growth and linking of interests, equality and accessibility. Trust is vital to stability, and allows
free sharing of ideas, aspirations, opinions, and hopes, fears. Empathy is at the heart of a bonded
community. It is not about passivity and regulation, control or exclusivity. It is about informed choice, open
discussion and a desire for involvement. More important though than this, its members OWN a Community
because they ARE the Community, and it is up to them to decide its route to future and form.
There can be a tendency for socioeconomic, circumstantial community and individual circumstances to
actually limit opportunity. What we need is a strategy that opens up opportunity for individuals (families,
groups etc) to have access to the catalysts of engagement, experience and of enjoying this involvement (it
needs to be a delight). Enjoyment opens up interest and brings motivation, engagement, and interaction i.e.:
wanting to share the delight.

What defines a Modern Learning Community?

This document has already addressed the definition of Community in its introduction, however it needs
further clarification:

         “Imagine a collection of individuals, working in close proximity, sharing a common purpose – a
         desire to learn…Imagine this same collection of individuals, working closely together, sharing
         knowledge, aspiring to the same vision. Imagine that the same collection of individuals, sharing
         each other‟s hopes and fears, empathizing emotionally, unleashing the power of their collective
         intelligences. This is a learning community”

         Collarbone (2001)

What should we be aware of?

        Individual identity matters within a community.
        That those being asked to be involved in anything new will naturally want to know how it can help
         them. “What is in it for Me?”
        Access alone is not participation, Contribution is important for active involvement, and
         participation and interaction are vital.
        Communication methods can make a big difference in how people see their involvement i.e.
         asynchronous communications allow for reflection, and has been shown to be better encouraging
         contribution. People need access through a variety of layers of accessibility.
        Facilitation and mediation are essential for successful online learning communities to develop and
         sustain (including necessary support)
        Authoring and annotation are needed, as well as browsing and selection
        Access needs to be anywhere, anytime FOR ANYONE and any device – standards must be open
        Software should be used to empower participants as contributors, as well as to explore other work.

Support, whether it is training or technical support are going to be needed, but in themselves are a result of
the necessity to ensure people can actually use the technologies software and tools on offer today. Often too
much emphasis is placed on how the software works, instead of what can it achieve for the user. We need a

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                         e-Community story so far

                         whole new approach, but that can only come into reality if there is possible to defocus on the actual
                         technology itself.

                                         “There must be an easier
                                          way to pay that bill, and
                                A            keep in touch?”
                                W                                                                            It is so
                                A                                                                            quick!
                                E                “I don‟t
          Quic kTime™ and a N                     know
TIFF (Unc ompres sed) decompressor
   are needed to see this picture.
                                E                 about
                                S                 that!”
                                                 easy,                                              “What‟s
                                              But I can‟t                 “Looks                      the
                             A                                          expensive.                Advantage
                             I                 do that!”
                                                                           Is it?”                 for me?”
                             I                         “That looks
                             N                         interesting,
                             G                                                          “I need some
                                                       where can I                          sound
                                                         find out                           advice”

                                                                                                         “I‟m going to
                                                                                                             tell my
                    Awareness Raising is
                    a vital part of the                                                                  friends, and
                    process of adoption                                                                 find out more
                                                                                                           by asking
                                         “Its saved                                                         around”
                                            me a
                                                                 Sharing                      Community
                                  QuickTime™ and a
                         TIFF (Un compressed) decompressor
                           are neede d to se e this picture.

                         e-Community story so far 25/05/05                                                              Page 13 of 36
e-Community story so far

Fundamental questions to ask of anything everything we do:

        Is this the simplest, most accessible, most versatile way to go?
        Is it interesting, involving, fun –is the user experience positive?
        Is it consistent?
        Is the user offered support, guidance, help in the context of its use?
        Is this the only way to go?
        Is it the most cost effective? – Implementation and initial installation are only a small element –
         and the real costs to the community are complex, and should take into account lifetime total cost of
         ownership (TCO)
        Is it cost effective?
        Is it scalable?
        Is it sustainable?
If any answer is no, then we must explore why, and what are the alternatives before engaging users in
training, learning and support.

Following meetings of the Northwest Development Agency Digital Development Agency Community panel
we have developed a number of important steps in the development of a viable e-Community:

   Search          Source                      understand

        Provoke Communicate                                discuss,
                                       Catalyse Curiosity                         respond

                                                     confidence collaborations
                                                          Create               Contribute

People have preferred styles of interactions, involvement and learning and this is an important factor to bear
in mind. Technology can allow choice and present a variety of approaches depending on a style preference
or analysis. We can ensure that we engage the widest possible audience in the Community by offering
appropriate intelligent technological tools. While we want to deliver e-Government targets and be able to
deliver services and information, we also want to be able to capture responses and feedback, but this will
not establish a Community itself. We can use information to provoke involvement, but we can do more than
this by giving the community a voice. Communication vehicles that should be two ways begin to offer this
opportunity. Such provocation allied to information and communication will catalyse community spirit and
bring people together – while developing confidence. With confidence and involvement will come

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creativity, and with it we deliver capability and continuity (sustainability). Humour (delight again) is also
important. There is nothing that brings people together better than humour and pleasure

The e-Community needs to be a delight to be part of.

The Challenge

         “ I want Britain to aim for universal access to the Internet by 2005.

         Making sure everyone has access to the Internet will both improve our competitiveness and
         reduce social exclusion. Policies of enterprise and fairness - working together.
         I am today publishing a report by the management consultants Booz Allen which explains the
         case for this policy. But there is no one-technology solution to deliver it.

         Some people will access the Internet, as now, through a PC. Others through a mobile phone
         or digital television. Some will do so at work, others at home. For those who can't afford any
         of these technologies, we will ensure there is a nearby public access point.

         Universal Internet access is vital if we are not only to avoid social divisions over the new
         economy but to create a knowledge economy of the future which is for everyone. Because it's
         likely that the internet will be as ubiquitous and as normal as electricity is today. We cannot
         accept a digital divide. For business. Or for individuals.

         Knowledge and skills, creativity and innovation, adaptability and entrepreneurship are the
         ways by which the winners will win in the new economy. We all have a responsibility to ensure
         that we are all equipped to succeed in it. That way we can all prosper. All our people. And all
         our businesses

         For the benefit of Britain”.

         Prime Minister's speech at the Knowledge 2000 Conference [7 March 2000]

         “Our goal is a Britain in which nobody is left behind; in which people can go as far as they have
         the talent to go; in which we achieve true equality - equal status and equal opportunity rather than
         equality of outcome.”

         March 2001 : Skills for Life DfES. PM's speech on tackling poverty and social exclusion
         [18 September 2002]

With well over 200 Community groups in Blackpool, 74,924 households, 142,000 inhabitants, an unusually
high transient population (higher even than inner London), growth in demand for school places and over
16.5 million visitors per year, we have a unique challenge. A challenge that is also seasonal, with many
„part-time‟ residents working long hours in season. For 4 months of the year there is a tradition for the local
hoteliers to become temporary expatriates of Blackpool as they jet off to Spain, but this in itself offers a
great opportunity to engage a community. Indeed expatriate Blackpool residents could well provide a great
vehicle to bring a new facet to engagement through friends and family.

Blackpool has some excellent creative talent in the town, and its facilities do draw in potential talent. Award
winning education from our schools through to the outstanding reputation of parts Blackpool and the Fylde
College; the highly technical and advanced industries close by, the concentration of Civil Service

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departments and the ITSA, alongside the service industries that support the traditional Blackpool leisure and
holiday industries. We have already identified that Blackpool is unique, but it must also be diverse to ensure
that a variety of talent is attracted and retained in the area as a means to grow innovation and

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The Opportunity
Englandsnorthwest connected action plan, part of the region‟s economic strategy that Blackpool is
assisting in the implementation of, identifies three strategic domains of consideration, and is beginning to
fund developments in the following areas:

     Access
     Users
     Content
It is the intention of this strategic document to illicit discussion and debate and to seek to bring a unique
Blackpool Community flavour to the development of these areas, as they are examined - while at the same
time to embrace and to assist regional integration.

The “How do I join in?” Factor:
This strategy is about people. It looks beyond computers and the Internet but needs to rely on the
infrastructure and communication routes to be in place.

Fast broadband is essential to all, not just the few, if the “e” in e-Community is going to work, just as good
roads are needed to ensure transportation links are developed in our “journey” analogy.

It is vital that we do not slip into the trap of many strategies, in assuming e-Communities will just happen
when technologies and access are provided. It is a prerequisite of the success of the strategy that it is a
partnership between the Stakeholders i.e. the residents, Blackpool Borough Council, community groups and
local education and learning providers.

We need to accept people are inherently cautious of changes, and that new technologies are just that. There
needs to be a drive to show that this change is shown to be appropriate and relevant if it is to be adopted.
Cost can sometimes be the biggest influencer in adoption, but is only part of the story. It is in part an
outcome of the fact that the perceptions of technology are often derived from past experience, and promises
have not always been delivered. Over complexity is one issue; illogical and alien processes are another. We
are lucky that today technology is both powerful enough and flexible enough to offer intuitiveness over
technical specification, simplicity over complexity. Thank goodness! One only has to look at how people
use technologies to see that a great deal of the effort put into its wide functionality is very often bypassed by
the simplicity of the “one-touch-record” syndrome (the tendency to use the simplest functions even though
they limit flexibility i.e. on video recorders). We need to consider simplicity and intelligence over
complexity and diversification of the tools we present for the Community to consider adopting at every
point of any implementation.

Access needs to be universal. Most ICT devices can be linked, connected, “made to talk” and so can share
information. Some are better than others in allowing response and involvement. This is the missing
„anyhow‟ of anywhere, anytime. It needs to be inclusive and should not preclude its use by anyone - in an
appropriate target sector or group. This variation of access suits different groups and disabilities. By playing
particular attention to access we could bring a great deal of interest into the Borough and ensure the best of
suitability inclusive place to live, work and holiday.

Sometimes for similar reasons as the reluctance of people to adopt and use ICT, residents may not be
willing to engage in available new routes. The aim is to engage people in ways that we will explore under

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“The What Factor” and “Content”. Our community needs to be given every facility to see the possibilities to
develop, relevance, variety and a focus on areas of interest that provide something culturally and socially
that will offer them something they can enjoy, and is a delight to be involved with – individually or with
peers and colleagues.

Broadening the Channels
In this section we explore the channels that the community uses and can use within as well as out of the
Borough, but focus on the new things that an e-Community can bring.

Traditionally individuals draw information from many places – most of it delivered through a medium, be it
by the airwaves (television, radio, satellite, mobile and wireless telephony), over wires (telephones, cable
services, internet, email), on paper (magazines, newspapers, junk mail etc) and by word of mouth. The
proliferation of mobile telephones, the widening of choice on television and the explosion of news and
magazines shows just how important such information is. Increasingly the „newer‟ interactive, participatory
mediums are growing in popularity, but there are distinct segregations of opportunity and knowledge that,
along with fear of change and cost can limit individuals‟ opportunities. None of these in itself is a single
driver of community, but the rich diversity of information is most certainly influential.

At this point let us explore some of the new mediums that an e-Community can bring to further enrich the

New “vocal” services

Not so much new, as a variation, but voice over IP (using internet technologies) is a „no cost‟ service if you
have the connection to the Internet. Free means that it can be freed of the limitations imposed by
“Because voice-over-Wi-Fi and VoIP are taking off because both are cheaper than long-distance calling.
The market for VoIP services, such as videoconferencing, should grow from $46 million in 2001 to as much
as $36.5 billion by 2008, predicts think tank Allied Business Intelligence in Oyster Bay, N.Y.”


With the connection to the Internet and appropriate software, emailing can offer a powerful medium for
interaction; although its limitations are that it is both text based (requires skills to access it) and that it is
asynchronous. The limitations can however be turned to an advantage, and emails can carry rich media such
as images, pictures, sounds and even video (although this currently is limited).


The growth of “texting” has been phenomenal, and while it started as a fashion for the young users has
increasingly been accepted by more mature audiences. Communication is now seen as creative and
fashionable. Experiments with the use of text and voice services for learning have been run by companies
such as Orange – and we need to look at the ways in which our communities can make best use of these.
“Texting” has all of the advantages of email, but is almost a hybrid of synchronous and asynchronous
communication. Its biggest drawback is cost.


Chat is really an embodiment of instant messaging, and is ideal for one to one, many to many
communications. Chat is really like talking, but with text, and it relies – like a telephone call, that the
participants are each “online”. Its big advantage over telephones is that it costs nothing to have several
individuals all chatting at one time. Increasingly Chat will be-Come more multimedia focused as the
bandwidths grow. Voice and video bring chat close to telephony in implementation, but with all the

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advantages that Chat brings. Video Conferencing, much abused, is close to be-Coming as free of the
constraints the technology as mobile cameras be-Come an increasingly common facility on telephones.


Blogging (shortened form of Web log, a vehicle that allows an author to have a presence other can share on
the internet) is new a new term. In the beginning - say 1994 - the phenomenon now called blogging was
little more than the sometimes nutty, sometimes inspired writing of online diaries. These days, there are all
sorts of blogs. But there are also news Blogs and commentary Blogs, sites packed with links and quips and
ideas and arguments that only months ago were the near-monopoly of established news outlets. Poised
between media, blogs can be as nuanced and well sourced as traditional journalism, but they have the
immediacy of talk radio. Amid it all, this much is clear: The phenomenon is real. Blogging is changing the
media world and could foment a revolution in how journalism functions in our culture

         “This, at least, is the idea: a publishing revolution more profound than anything since the printing
         press. Blogger could be to words what Napster was to music - except this time, it'll really work.

Andrew Sullivan The New York Times

Of course, quality remains in the hands of the users.

Quality is important. This is further examined later in this document, but this is a dimension of all aspects of
the Community work. This should never preclude ideas from emerging, and mechanism must be put into
place that identify that which could be, or needs to be further refined. Indeed, this process can enhance the
quality of involvement, using content creation and maximised inclusively; community can be given
guidance and skills developed.

Blackpool‟s Excellence in Cities programme is making a major mark in the town, with the strategy of
bringing unified services into the Borough‟s schools through the landmark City Learning Center Project
(linking to City Learning Center „spokes‟) which will offer accommodation for Community, library,
Schools professional Development as well as a range of creative ICT facilities for developing content.
Included in this facility will be a professional studio to cater for production and even broadcast media.

The strategy for the development of a “one stop” portal for the e-Community is under discussion with a
well-known Educational Software developer (Granada). Granada‟s experience in a number of products, but
specifically in the development of the “virtual learning environment” Learn Wise has been utilized in pilots
with schools in Blackpool. This is a product that has found favour and application at many levels of
Education – but also offers the possibility of versioning for Community use. The People’s Network
Excellence Fund has already provided funding to assist in the development of this.

What are Learn Wise and a “Virtual Learning Environment”? Basically it is a “portal” or window to a range
of services. In the case of Learn Wise this portal contains information, guidance, references, links, access to
the web. It also carries communications that can be geared for target groups, forums, debates, email, and
conferencing. It can be a repository of content, media (video streaming). Most importantly though, it can
provide a voice and a framework for users (residents, employers, learners etc) using CommunityWise, to
bring their own talents to a wider audience. Mediation and championing are a fundamental part of the
development of this type of environment, along with the opportunities to develop a whole raft of new and
relevant skills.

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            CommunityWise – potential and framework for implementation


                                                  FE          Schools        Community
                                                College                       members
                                                          ACCESSIBLE 24/7
                                                          High Performance             Services

                                                    Secure log-in


                                                  Virtual Community
       trainers                                 CommunityWise

                                                                             Commercial relationships
              Local                                                             Links/Advisor/Review

            e-Community story so far 25/05/05                                        Page 20 of 36
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Layers of Engagement
While content may not be king, but it is important – engagement and involvement are the keys to the
success of the e-Community. By giving the community the tools that enable them to have voice and the
presence – and to develop directions that we can only begin to imagine, individual and group involvement
will grow the community.

Why should people have to spend time learning how to use tools, which are aimed at “making lives easier”?
There lies a conundrum. Learning ICT skills will be an important component in the developments of
community engagement – however ICTs are tools to enable, not an end in themselves. We should only
accept solutions that offer ease of use - for beginners or anyone who wants this, and the more complex
features should be hidden behind the scenes. The power in ICT is in enabling varied approaches. There
should be the minimal obstruction to access. Open standards are key.

Access should be available, where appropriate and when appropriate, and in a number of ways. This ensures
that access is provided for anyone that wants it. Complimentary technologies should be overlaid wherever
possible – and should be used to open up new ways to have access and to interact. Choice brings an
infrastructure that enables engagement to be adopted as required.

How the infrastructure can be overlaid
                                      Wired                   Broadcast digital      Wireless 802.
                                      copper/fibre                                   Inc Bluetooth
            Learning Centre           Desktop Computer        Interactive TV         Desktop Computer
            (facility) access         (web)/stream)                                  (web)/stream)
            Community                 Laptop (web)/stream                            Laptop (web)/stream
                                      Tablet (web)/stream                            Tablet (web)/stream
                                                                                     Mobile phones
            Home access               Desktop Computer        Interactive TV         Desktop Computer
                                      (web)/stream)                                  (web)/stream)
                                      Laptop (web)/stream                            Laptop (web)/stream
                                      Tablet (web)/stream                            Tablet (web)/stream
                                      PDA                                            Mobile phones
                                      Interactive TV
                                      mobile phone (SMS,
            Wider access              Desktop Computer        Interactive TV         Desktop Computer
            Community                 (web)/stream)                                  (web)/stream)
                                      Laptop (web)/stream                            Laptop (web)/stream
                                      Tablet (web)/stream                            Tablet (web)/stream
                                      PDA                                            Mobile phones
                                      Interactive TV
                                      mobile phone (SMS,
            Satellite                 Interactive TV          Interactive TV         Links to itinerant by
                     Terrestrial                                                     local 802 or
                     Cable            Desktop Computer                               Bluetooth devices
            Time shift                (web)/stream)
                                      Laptop (web)/stream
                                      Tablet (web)/stream
            Broadcast Access                                  Interactive TV         PDA, Laptop
            Tele-Coms (mobile)                                mobile phone (SMS,     (web)/stream
                                                              MMS,QT)                Tablet (web)/stream
                                                                                     Mobile phones

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Looking for assistance in getting the e-Community in place
Lancashire‟s own Broadband Action Plan (2002) is based on a strategy to deliver broadband services by two

       Stimulating demand to establish the business case needed for commercial providers to offer
        affordable Internet access services.

       Exploiting the economics of demand aggregation and public sector infrastructure investment, to
        develop a sub-regional MAN offering intranet services to the public sector, industry and the

These delivery routes will be supported by actions designed to:

       Establish best practice - by conducting integrated pilot programmes, evaluating alternative
        technologies and developing a sustainable model for a broadband-enabled community

       Develop broadband content – by incentives, to enable media and content providers to provide
        integrated support to SMEs, developing community information services,

       Provide support to the community– by seeding and supporting sub-regional partnerships and
        community broadband buying clubs, establishing ICT support centres within partnership areas to
        communicate best practice.

“Lancashire will adopt this strategy to take the sub-region forward to fulfill the broadband vision
represented by the figure below. It is a vision is based on exploiting the economic benefits of
aggregation of demand and supply within the sub-region; the wider benefits of public sector
investment in broadband enabling public services; and stimulating demand through a range of
measures to promote the benefits of broadband to the business community”.

from Lancashire Broadband Action Plan 2002

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The technologies bringing the most fundamental changes are actually making an impact by not changing
people‟s habits, but complementing them. We need to look at technologies that bring the greatest gains and
help people develop new habits by evolution. Consider “where” people access information or “interact”.
Mobile access, through mobile phones is an area which could provide a rich vehicle for information and
interaction, but it is wireless (or WiFi). Add to this the advantages of “always on” broadband, and the
“when” is also addressed.

         “Just 12 months ago, Wi-Fi, which allows for fast, wireless Internet access, didn't even exist in the
         public consciousness. Today, an estimated 4 million people worldwide use the technology to
         connect to the Web -- and each other -- from just about anywhere, a number that's expected to
         grow to 63.3 million by 2007, according to market consultancy Gartner”.

         “The Net: Now, Folks Can't Live Without It”

More recently Gartner reported (June 2003) that the figure of 63 million has already had to be revised. By
the end of 2003 Gartner Dataquest believes that the majority of wireless access points (hotspots) will be in
retail outlets, closely followed by hotels, however by 2005 community hotspots will account for 20% of the
worldwide total.

Access of any form depends greatly on cost and what you can afford. Cost is the great disenfranchising
factor in participation. Should provision be made centrally? The Council has the opportunity to allow access
for the majority who do not have access at work or at home to do so via facilities such as Libraries, schools,
colleges and ICT Learning Centres such as the Blackpool City Learning Centre.
It is vital to ask the question “Where do the community members want access?” Typically if you are
unaware of what a new technology can actually deliver, you are unlikely to request it. We need to show
what the options are. With an overlaid access model we have the opportunity to make this anywhere, and
almost without compromise today – so the future bodes well as shared costs fall. Why not use cooperative
broadband links via wireless? With a range of 300ft, this suddenly be-Comes a resource that neighbours can
share. Recently Brighton (which is acknowledged as becoming a Mecca for entrepreneurial and high tech
small companies) has been exploring town wide 802 wireless accessibility to fundamentally open up
connection from almost anywhere)

Making access available outside the learning centres and in the towns growing “café districts” seems a
sensible thing to explore. Equally leisure facilities and sports facilities need to have these areas planned in
now. Ideally it would make sense to wirelessly cover the whole of Blackpool. A distinct business
opportunity exists to serve Conferences and delegations, linked to access through CommunityWise,
bringing a bonus for residents in that the service could be supplemented or indeed possibly funded by
occasional users.
There are already examples of successful and longstanding wireless implementations close at hand to
Blackpool. (Isle of Man primary schools are almost totally wireless; there are examples in South Yorkshire,
London, and Glasgow…) and Brighton.

Access to support, to mentors as well as to your peers is vital and brings me back to the point that
participation is about people working together. This may be an individual and tutor, but equally and
powerfully it should be peers in communities learning from their and others experiences. To reiterate, the
community cannot work without participation and engagement…and people are needed to give momentum
and maintain it within the whole strategy. Champions? Facilitators? – possibly we should call them.

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The “Who?” Factor
This document has already touched on the size of Blackpool and its unique population, but it is important to
consider how Blackpool provides support through employment to its population.

Blackpool‟s business community is dominated by small to medium enterprises, with over 90% of those
being micro companies (less than 10 employees). There is a very strong emphasis on Tourism, as you would
expect, with over 3000 tourism providers. Employment levels and wage rates are below the national
average, and there is a strong emphasis on seasonal employment. There is evidence if an ICT skills gap,
especially amongst the tourism providers, and this is true both in terms of use and in terms of technical
support. Business Link North West Lancashire provides business support along with the Borough council,
which has been recently launched at the Blackpool Technology Management Centre.

There is however, still a lack of take-up of ICT in the Borough in comparison to other sub regions. This we
need to address.

Blackpool and the Fylde College (the Art College is situated in a Blackpool ward identified as ERDF,
Priority 1, 2 and NRF) is making good inroads into developing the skills locally, in terms of ICT usage and
in developing some digital content. Specifically its outstanding center of excellence for digital Media stands
out. It is linked to Lancaster University, for its degree accreditation and is nationally recognized. This will
be taken up elsewhere in this document, however there is a real lesson in “Thinking Differently” at work
here. The College is also heavily involved in Learn Direct, Blackpool Community Network and SureStart.

Blackpool‟s 6th Form College is a very innovative and ICT advanced college, with expertise that has been
sought widely outside of the Borough. Its advanced ICT administration and information facilities, along
with its exciting and creative ICT courses (mainly A Level) are growing demand. Of particular note is the
growth in demand for Graphical Design and Music courses.

Blackpool‟s Libraries, the subject of a key strategy for modernisation, is served by the People‟s Network. A
network and access to courses and Internet provision are available at most of the Libraries, as well as having
a bespoken ICT suite at the Central library. There are plans for consolidation of provision through the
development of a new facility (Community Service center/Library) at Palatine, a new facility at the new
City Learning Centre, as well as enhancements to facilities at Bispham and Layton.

What is significant about the College provision at both Blackpool and the Fylde and the Blackpool 6 th Form
is their emphasis on creativity. This I not the case in the libraries, it is being revised in the Library
modernization plans with the use of video, music, digital images and other key areas being provided as first
steps in engaging community members.

Partners in the voluntary sector too are striving to ensure access and usage of ICT be-Comes more of a
norm. Age Concern runs an Internet café for “silver surfers”. There are a number of active community
groups such as that at the Community Centre at St. Christopher‟s, offering drop-in sessions for locals.
Blackpool is lucky enough to have the services of a volunteer unit run by Mike Hewitt, which recycles
redundant computers making technology available to those who otherwise could not afford it. The only
issue here is that the changes in the WinTel world, which make these computers redundant, also limit the
uses to the end users.

Anyone who feels that technology can bring something to their lives will be tempted to take the first steps.
Users may have no experience at all – or be competent and be looking at new and innovative ways to do
things. Blackpool‟s own Community development Unit have had great success in engaging community that
is often hard to reach for social reasons. Their network can and will be of tremendous value in catering for
an audience which might want to work in different ways, as groups, almost anywhere. We need to broaden
our view of the Community. Whether people have their own tools to access the web and hence our services,

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or they use the ones supplied by the Borough, the real focus should be on the things people want to actually
do, and what interests them, not on resources and facilities that sit on the networks. We need intelligent
systems and simple, logical processes.

The Stakeholders (no particular order)

        Employers
        The Employed
        The Unemployed
        Preschool
        School aged
        Students
        Young families
        Clubs and societies
        The Retired
        Organizations (Voluntary etc)
        The Challenged
        The Visitors
        Transients (by choice of forced)
        The Homeless

Example 1 for consideration
Future employers/employees. A new way of looking at Students.

Students, whether new to the resort or not, need information, advice, guidance and a flexible approach.
They are potentially future employees – even employers in the region. We need to celebrate this by looking
at what retaining the excellent calibre of creative individuals we have in Blackpool.
In 2003 Blackpool and the Fylde College‟s students had the following success at degree level:

School of Art and Design, Graphic Design, Photography, Information Illustration, Scientific and Natural
History Illustration, and Wildlife Photography.

A significant use of ICT (indeed in some a large proportion) is made in the delivery of these courses

                  121 at BA Hons
         All other Schools:
                  93 at Honours

Blackpool and the Fylde College holds its annual degree show in London. Traditionally the talent goes

What can Blackpool do to retain this talent?

RealTime Visualisation, a young company founded by exstudents of the local College around 5 years ago
has developed an ICT based business that delivers high quality graphical visualizations to a wide and varied
clientele both nationally and internationally. It now employs some 60 members of staff from a starting point
with 2. Blackpool is in danger of losing this company and possibly failing to retain others to one or more of
the attractive areas outside of the region.

How can we help more diverse and high-tech businesses?

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Example 2 for consideration
The Challenged

 Sight, hearing – indeed the diminishing of any faculty or sense should not preclude access. As a place to
live, as well as a resort Blackpool already offers advantages for the large population of i.e. sight-disabled
The town houses one of the biggest “Talking Newspaper” units in the country run by the local Blind Society
and the chosen charity of the Mayor of Blackpool.
The latest Statistics available form the National Statistics Office (March 2000) shows a population in
Blackpool alone of around 544 residents. In Lancashire the total number is 3,933. The Northwest as a whole
is home to nearly 21,000 registered sight disabled people.
These people can be helped to fulfill their lives with the aid of well-chosen technological aids (for which
they can be actually funded). In 2002 there were only 2 RNIB run hotels in the UK, at Blackpool and
Eastbourne. Between them they catered for 4000 guests in the last year.

                                                                    % aged:    % aged:
Total                                                                                                 % aged:
           % aged     % aged:     % aged:    % aged:     % aged:    45 up to   pension     % aged:
persons                                                                                               85 and
           0-4        5 - 15      16 - 17    18 - 29     30 - 44    pension    able age    75 - 84
= 100 %                                                                                               over
                                                                    able age   to 74

146069         5.9        11.1      2.1        16.8        18.8        21        14.5        7.6         2.2    Blackpool Census 1991

Example 3 for consideration
Working Learners

One group often not catered for are those in work who might wish to be-Come “part or full time” learners.
Many larger companies offer training, and employees happy in their chosen professions, but those looking
to better themselves are limited by choice. The National Health Service University (NHSU) is proposing to
adopt a model of training and learning that allows the learner to gain qualifications while still working, to
degree and beyond level, all through the use of ICT in balance with other ways of training. This brings
advantages for employers – as employees are more likely to be retained. Post compulsory aged residents
need to be able look beyond the basics. ICT can really be a boon – but people need guidance. Programmes
such as the Degree at Ultralab: the Ultraversity project, (adopted by
NHSU) are open to all.

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The “What?” Factor:
         „Nolan Bushnell, the gaming guru who in 1972 founded Atari, which made the first commercial
         video-arcade game, Pong, who's considered the father of computer entertainment, believes that
         eventually all types of media will combine to create a completely new communication experience
         via the Web. That will change everything from online shopping to dating to teleconferencing.”

         “The Net: Now, Folks Can't Live Without It”

Information broadcast is effectively “one way”, or it was until recently…
TV has broadcast and entertained, diversifying through choice and variety with only the smallest
“inteaction”, although public contribution has been explored.
People have had educational programmes delivered at them with minimal interaction.
These approaches suit the learning style of “traditional” learners – but disenfranchise others

What is the outcome?

Information be-Comes “packaged” for a typical audience
Facts can be-Come detached from their backgrounds
Information be-Comes more abstract and less relevant and practical.

In the same way that what has now be-Come identified as broadband (ADSL) is very good at delivering
content to the user, it also has the unfortunate disadvantage of being slow at sending data back
(asymmetrical). In a sense the technology is an ideal stepping-stone for today‟s users, but in the main the
higher bandwidth data is one way (although symmetrical ADSL services are be-Coming available, they are
costed at a premium currently). But this will change – and indeed is changing. Work at CISCO with Greater
London Authority is already pointing towards the need for faster and symmetrical services as the required

People will always look at anything that is new, or that has a cost by way of time or money and ask “what‟s
in it for me?” and rightly so. The Internet has created a new generation of learners who get pleasure from
finding out about things. Following your interest could be a hobby, it could be a whim, it could be work,
study or just fun that also has the benefit of making people want to find out more. The easier, the better. If
that information search also saves time – even tangible money, then better still people begin to use the
technology. Training to use technology is not a waste of time, but it is expensive and if time consuming,
something is going wrong.
The more stimulating and open we can make the content the better. The journey has begun. Creativity will

Masses of high quality materials exist on the web, are available through CDROMs, DVDs and viewable by
broadcast and interactive technologies. In the early stages of developing our e-Community, there needs to
be an opportunity to use some of this. The content itself needs to be relevant – and it is a problem that again,
the promises of technology are sometimes not delivered. Encyclopedias on CD inevitably suffered from
inferiority due to the limits of the storage and the expectations of the user (the video and sound content is
the attraction). Who better to make those informed judgments than the community itself?

Course content such as that created for and by LearnDirect suffers from “lowest common denominator”
syndrome i.e. it is made to run on the lowest power systems possible in order to be universally applicable. It
also serves in the main to be Windows only – a big problem for industries and users that use other

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       e-Community story so far

       There are some very innovative content sites that offer a glimpse into the possible by offering media rich
       content that works well even over modems, and seeks to look beyond the technology. Sites such as Atomic
       Learning ( offer advantages to accessibility and are very cost effective.
       Equally, there are many other examples to cite, but the most exciting is the opportunity to access the
       National Learning Network Materials (from Sept 2003) for all Adult Learning centres. (
       Funding is also on offer for the development of materials over the next 3 years via NIACE (JISC/UKERNA.

       Content then is vital, but in itself will not create an e-Community………….but it is important that we
       ensure a constant supply of content, and that ownership should wherever possible reside in the community
       and that can shift its emphasis as interests and requirements/interests evolve.

       There have been many attempts to create e-Communities. eLearning systems are NOT what are required,
       although a community access (via a portal) can be used to deliver formal (and informal, accredited and
       unaccredited) eLearning.

       Priming - Assisting in content and community development
       We want a quality experience for e-Community users, but not to the exception of ownership, and we need a
       variety of ways of creating this material. The real help needs to focus on delivery by a variety of media best
       suited to the audience and it needs to balance that content created by the community against the wider needs
       of information services and e-Government.

                                              Fully Interactive

                                                                             The 3D model for balance within content

    Any content of any quality

                                                                  Content style

                                                                                             Created by residents/
                                                                                       Commissioned by residents


Created by Borough/
Third party information hip


       e-Community story so far 25/05/05                                                             Page 28 of 36
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Blackpool community, as a content consumer, as well as a producer is an exciting being enhanced is one of
the most exciting and engaging areas of development. Each community in Blackpool could be offered its
own opportunity to engage within the borough, the region, the country, and the world. As well as groups
and societies, there is a real growth in people wanting to make a mark, positively on the map. The idea of
everyone having 15 seconds of fame really could be stretched to its ultimate, and that is a presence for
anyone who wanted it.

While there are growing numbers of people wanting to access the Internet, there are suggestions that e-
Commerce, initially the driving factor, is being replaced by a new imperative – e-communication. People
are finding out that there are advantages – “what‟s in it for me”- is being answered by flexibility, lower cost,
easy access in the form of email, chat and other such services (see Access – Channels).

Bringing Content to Life
Two areas of common interest, visual and audio bring new possibilities – but people like to share
experiences, they like to individualise, comment and annotation can offer a high degree of interaction.

Both film and music are cultural arts, and the development of Media Literacy has a solid foundation that is
developing as a series of key skills, but new technology is driving the envelope and enhancing the
possibilities in both as traditional methods of things such as video editing are replaced. An interest in music
and film/video can be used as a way of bringing common interests to light in the community. ICT can be the
vehicle for the media and a vehicle for the interest and development. What do the community do if they
have access to technologies that allow the development of content? Some can be broadcast – but not
everyone wants to share in that way. The Community portal could provide central storage space and offer
the facility to “borrow” music, spoken word, video, images, artworks, ebooks in new innovative ways. We
can adopt a facility that offers a means of sharing and online storage with tools that provide space, simple
templates and ideas. This is already happening for the .Mac community. See http//

Content creation has never been easier – and creation has nothing to do with quality or usefulness. Content
can be created for free; it can be broadcast for free, it can be broken down, it can be reused and repurposed,
but underlying this is a need to be able to share not just the resources, but also the very thoughts that each
individual brings to bear dependent upon their perceptions. In much the same way as tagging meta-data
(descriptions of data) onto objects, so sharing experiences by annotation is invaluable. This is the scribbling
in the book, the note on the diagram, the reference left to provoke others to comment. While many are still
discovering the versatility of PowerPoint (if used carefully this can be a useful if restrictive tool), so others
are using digital images (photos), movies (video), sound (voiced and music) and other tools to bring content
out of the text age. Still others are using these resources to annotate others. This also has the added
advantage of engaging and provoking wider audiences.

So much of this change is being helped by improvements in bandwidth, and increasingly software is
being made easier to use (although this is not always true!).

Ease of use must be the prerequisite from which again, we need to assess all technologies.

Specifications mean little if you can simply do less faster!

The beauty of digital content is simply its versatility and its reusability. The real skill for Blackpool as it
rolls out digital content is to lead in matters much more important than the learning about technology
(something you should not really need to do), but on the skills that are transferable and bring quality to that

Assessing Involvement
It would be easy to simply count the numbers of users accessing our systems. How they use the technology
is an indication of involvement – but relies on uninhibited growth. Ultimately what they use our services for

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is a much better indicator for reading into success. Following are the developmental assessment stages used
in the ACOT* programme for assessing teachers use of technology. They provide a sound basis for
understanding how we could recognize adoption and “success” in engaging community in using ICT.

        The following are identifiable stages of Technological Acceptance (ACOT* principles)

        Entry             Learning the very basics of a new technology (sometimes grudgingly)

        Adoption          Using new technology to support activities previously done in other ways.

        Adaptation        Integrating the use of the new technology to increase productivity,
                          engagement, and participation. Replacing previous means of doing

        Appropriation Seeking out technology and focusing on using it for increasingly more
                      activity as one of a number of useful tools.

        Invention         Discovering new uses of Technology and planning to use technology in
                          increasingly adventurous ways.

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Blackpool has already begun the process of shaping the delivery of the Community Strategy.

A number of initiatives and concepts are in place and need to be brought to fruition. Some of these have
confirmed funding and development, others are more ideas that can be implemented to engage others in the
community to ensure a fully integrated e-Community strategy.

Strategic priority actions identified by the Community Development Unit include:

       Appointment of an e-Community Manager for Blackpool.
       Establishment of a recognised skill level in ICT at an early age (e.g. a “junior” ECDL at primary
        and junior school level could be developed) to set citizens on the ICT journey and ensure it is an
        integral element of people development.
       Implementation of CommunityWise as the e-vehicle for the community – Blackpool Borough
        Council with Blackpool and The Fylde College and Granada Learn Wise to ensure continuation of
        ICT as part of people development.
       Partnering with Telford Council and the University of Wolverhampton on the development of
        CommunityWise as the e-portal for the community.
       Development and delivery of the City Learning Centre as a showcase development for ICT in the
        Community (opening Autumn 2003). This centre of excellence will demonstrate advanced ICT
        and other technologies in the curriculum and is intended to demonstrate innovation and best
        practice in the electronic classroom. It will operate a partnership with 8 High Schools in the
        Borough and additionally will incorporate a new branch library, a community ICT suite.
       Development and implementation to completion of BIG (Blackpool Interactive Grid) – the
        initiative that will put Blackpool at the forefront of the digital and information age, building a
        robust and solid infrastructure that enables a range of new and innovative electronic services in the
       Access to services, based at the Borough Council offering wider services to the Community when
        and where citizens want access to it, including e-government, based around the needs of the citizen.
       Extension of the library service with modern facilities, open longer hours when citizens want
       Proposed digitisation of the full Victoriana collection and other collections within the Borough.
       Proposed bid to Lottery Heritage Fund based on developing “Today‟s Blackpool, Tomorrows
       Bid to Lottery Heritage Fund for digitisation of the Illuminations archives as held by the Council.
       Web casting of community and entertainment activity (e.g. the Grand Theatre project with Age
       Ensuring that Blackpool public sector websites are kept up to date with relevant and interesting
       Establishment of PC refurbishing and recycling unit for community groups and those unable to
        afford new computers.
       Establishment of ICT technician training programme, to support community groups, small business
        clusters, schools and individuals.
       Establishment of an e-Blackpool support group to support small businesses and community groups
        (especially for companies who are suppliers to the local authority and other partners) and assist
        with the development of local e-champions in all sectors.
       Aggregate the concept of an e-campus infrastructure.
       Develop the potential for loaning ICT equipment for use by citizens, businesses and community
       Develop the framework for Interactive Digital TV to complement and deliver the National Digital
        TV Community channel based on the Blackpool City Learning Centre.
       Establish a marketing strategy of all the ICT services, access points and opportunities for citizens,
        communities and businesses in Blackpool.

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          The Priorities

         Firstly, e-Community partnership meets regularly to explore directions. This group represents
          Community for Voluntary Services, Blackpool and the Fylde College, Blackpool Community
          Development Unit, Blackpool and the Fylde College, Business Link, Age Concern and others. This
          partnership will ensure balance and validity, engaging other parties as appropriate.

         Secondly, Blackpool has appointed the e-Community Manager to oversee and manage
          developments of the strategy.

         Thirdly, Blackpool has initiated the development of a bespoke but flexible learning engine
          (CommunityWise) through work with the Learning Lab and Granada Learning funded in part
          through the Standards Fund.

         Fourthly Blackpool has identified that there is a fundamental need for content development
          support, and the establishment of a Creative Digital Content Development Unit (CDCDU).

 It is widely acknowledged that the fundamental component missing from most VLE models, and which will
 assist in engaging all levels of the community is CONTENT. This has proved to be the one key that has
 held back real progress with Learn Wise in Blackpool‟s schools. It is identified as a requirement of a VLE
 by the College, by the Blackpool 6th Form College.

 Blackpool has the in-house capabilities and potential to deliver on this need. In considering this, it is
 recognized that regionally, and indeed nationally there is demand for content. By working on the identified
 need, mapping our ideals against regional and nationally recognized needs, we can create the capacity to
 fulfill our local needs and create materials that will be of interest to others. More than anything else what
 Blackpool needs is a relevant, exciting, appropriate and useable facility to develop ideas from the


   Delivery                                                                       Creative
   Platform:                            Digital Asset                              Digital
                                        Management                                Content
CommunityWise                                and                                Development
                                          Storage                                   Unit

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The model shown above illustrates what a Creative Digital Content Development Unit (CDCDU) in the
Borough could look like if it is to serve the local and the regional needs. It could provide a valuable
incubator of talent by employing local people, taking ideas identified by various areas of the community,
and then turning then into useable, SCORN compliant, open standard products and resources. These
products would then be available as professional objects for sale or supply to other regions of the North
West and wider, as well as through agreed commercial vendors. By their very nature these products
(Learning Objects) would be reusable and repurposable and would be stored and served via the Digital
Asset Management and Storage Facility (which would take images, videos, texts, links, whole lessons,
projects, presentations, sounds) and make them available as indexed, searchable resources. These assets
would then be deliverable through the platform of choice, namely the commissioned CommunityWise. The
future development possibilities could offer training, extended employment and deliver additional kudos to
the Blackpool as an area of innovative Digital Development and Creativity supported from the Borough and
the Community.

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The Targets:
Date                     Target

                         e-Community Strategy
                         Development of an agreed plan first phase and formal plan with defined targets

June 03                  Appointment of eCommunity Manager

Jul/Sep 03               Development from e-Community Group, for consultation

Oct 03                   “Suitable” draft version of e-Community Plan for community

Oct 03                   Consultation period Oct – December 2003

Nov 03                   Draft Plan publication

December 03              Review of e-Community Plan

Approx 6 weekly          e-Community Group meetings

January 04               Ongoing review of Strategy

                         Development of a solid, reliable, easy to use, versatile, flexible, innovative, open
                         standard Community Environment in partnership with one or more third party

Jul 03                   CW specification original contract enhancements

                         More detailed functional specification mapped out

Aug 03                   Scoping, costing and Scheduling the creation of CW

Late Sept 03             Visual walkthrough and interface.
                         Identification of 3 key community groups for Beta testing

Oct/Nov 03               Unofficial opening of Blackpool CLC and Library

Late Oct 03              **Illuminations Collection content (LHF). Define media standards.

Nov 03                   Beta version available for view and trial (November target)
                         Initial trials with 3 key community groups for Beta testing

Jan 04                   Beta Feedback to Granada

Early 04                 *Bidding for Creative Digital Content Development Unit

Feb 04                   Release version 1.0

Feb/April 04             Community “champions” training

July 04                  Palatine Centre, e-Community outreach workers in place

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Aug 04                   e-Community/CommunityWise review
Date                     Target

                         *CDCDU Creative Digital Content Development Unit
                         Development of a solid, reliable, easy to use, versatile, flexible, innovative, open
                         standard Community Environment in partnership with one or more third party

Sept/Nov 03                         Development of CDCDU Specifications/requirements

Oct 03                              **Content associated bid for funding for funding LHF
                                    Bids for:
                                    1) Illuminations Collection
                                    2) Trams
                                    3) Blackpool of Tomorrow (looking at heritage of tomorrow)
                                    Anticipated, if successful, July 2004.

Nov03/Jan 04                        Bid for CDCDU funding DDA

July 04                  ***Ideal setting up of unit if successful

Date                     Target

                         Incubator Unit- Solarium
                         Development a high tech and creative facility based at Blackpool South Shore
                         that will provide a base and space for developing companies and startups. This
                         facility will also be able to provide advice, training and guidance as well as being
                         open to the public as an exhibition space.

July 04                  ***Development of CDCDU

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                        Public                          Private

                          Web page in an open domain

                          My own diary

                          Doctor Patient

                          Planning application/voting

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