Archive for the ‘scip’ Category

Drupal is a powerful open source tool for creating websites that can be managed by people without a high degree of technical skills. It is a very popular tool with a large community of users, and it is free.

Drupal logoMany people around the world use Drupal to set up sites for not for profit organisation – we’ve been using at SCIP for several years, including our own site at www.scip.org.uk. The initial set up stage still requires a specialist web developer, but once it’s in place it can offer very powerful features to anyone with basic keyboard and mouse skills.

These sites are becoming increasingly popular for small and medium sized community organisations, alongside the growth of personal sites such as Blogger. You can change content quickly and easily, add photographs and useful links to other sites, add news stories and tidy up loose ends, such as when staff or job titles change.

Drupal has developed thanks to the commitment and collaboration of a wide range of people across the world. This conference in Coventry in late August is for web developrs with a specific interest in creating sites for the voluntary sector. It’s just £15 and is being organised by Illuminate ICT.

Our Drupal Conference | www.illuminateict.org.uk


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Ran a workshop in Guildford today for people from the south east working on shared databases for the voluntary sector. Key issues raised:
– data ownership – technical, legal and political issues
– what data to collect – inc taxonomy, mapping to other sources, reporting requirements, priorities
– sustainability – initial set up costs vs ongoing management and maintenance of data
– technical requirements – web access vs data security
– budget – software + staff time
– roles and partnership development

Two examples were reviewed:
– MERLIN – built and managed by Basingstoke Voluntary Action
– Oxnet – powered by Uniservity

Each have strengths and weaknesses but Uniservity seemed more attactive for its web capabilities and the support team available – although it is more expensive

What next?
All agreed it was helpful to comapre notes and review options. Also discussed how much different people are paying the same supplier
Next workshop could focus on specific issues and answer detailed questions

Six people attended, although nine booked. This is okay but could have been better. ICT Hub met the costs of the session, and this was thought to be a good use of funds [apporx £300 inc trainer + room costs etc]

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SCIP is a step closer to developing an innovative new range of training courses for community and voluntary organisations. A proposal to the Lottery’s BASIS fund for an innovative partnership project has moved to Stage Two, making it one of only a small number of successful bids in a highly competitive process.
The funds will enable SCIP to work more closely with Working Together Project, also based in Brighton & Hove, which provides community development training and support to smaller community and voluntary groups in Sussex. The aim is to embed ICT into the Working Together Project’s current range of courses and to pilot a series of training courses to ensure that the courses meet the neds of staff and volunteers.
A complete business plan must be submitted to get through Stage Two and, if the plan is accepted, money should be available from September 2007.
I started work on the plan today with Paul and Michelle at WTP and hope to have it ready for checking by the SSICP Board by the beginning of April – all very exciting.

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[as posted to BH Issues Forum]
There is a community-based wireless project in the city. As of the beginning of this month SCIP is working on a wi-fi based project with the Friends Centre and some community groups in Tarner – the bit between Hanover and Amex in central Brighton.

The residents are keen to see how wireless can provide wider access to the internet and have set up a group called the Tarner Wireless Internet Group [TWIG]. We’re currently planning point to point wireless connections between five or six community centres to start building a network, linked in to a JANET [Joint Academic Network] connection which will come into the Friends Centre in Morley Street [next to Ocean Rooms].

Some centres are considering creating a ‘wi-fi cloud’ around their centre to create a local access point. At least one centre [Phoenix on the old Brewery site] has had a wireless hotspot like this for several years. Enabling SCIP, Friends Centre and others to deliver training there, as well as being used by local residents with wifi enabled computers.

SCIP is working with the people who run the centres – ranging from community centres such as Phoenix on the old Brewery site to shared social spaces in older people’s residential blocks. We’ll help them identify their needs and then work with them to provide training and other support to make use of the connectivity.

The project also includes training delivered to local residents by Friends Centre, using these wi-fi networks – both IT training and other skills. We had some really good help from Dave Phelan at Pier to Pier when we started this process and there is now a budget to bring in cutting edge wireless technology, so I hope Roger will be getting a call at Metranet and
be bidding for that.

The Council has been supportive, particularly through the education department as various people at Tarner School are involved in TWIG – I believe they’re looking at loaning laptops to local parents and linking to this project to provide internet access. I believe the Council [LEA] also had to formally agree to the offer of the JANET connection before we could
get it.

I have spoken to Bill Parslow, Head of ICT at the Council and he’s supportive – indeed he already uses wireless connections in various parts of the City Council’s network [Metranet I believe?]

The current project runs to March 2008 and is funded by UK Online [not sure how much but it’s not £1m].

Its very early days so I’m still getting my head round the link between the various parts but it seems to me that it will produce a bottom up network, based within and controlled by community centres, which distributes access to a fast connection using localised wireless network.

That’s the techie bit. What I’m keen to see is:
* how the people running the centres manage the use of wifi in their own
* the type of support they need to make best use of it
* how local people use the hotspots and what barriers they face
* technical issues such as capacity and certain restrictions placed on use by Janet
* how to create a sustainable network that the Centres can afford to maintain [eg putting current connectivity spend from community centres into one pot to pay revenue costs for the network]

I hope this will serve as a demo project, showing the community, the Council and other agencies exactly what support they could provide to enable these networks to grow, especially in the absence of multi-million pound showcase funding. There is a link within the project to Hangleton & Knoll Community Project to help share lessons learned across neighbourhoods and SCIP is
linked into many different community networks to help share those lessons.

We must also remember that Brighton has an extraordinary number of free wireless hotspots in the cafes, beaches and bars around town, thanks in no small part to the vision and efforts of pier to pier and Loose Connections/Metranet. And a similarly dense cloud of paid for services in Starbucks etc.

To me the flexibility and scaleability of wireless is interesting, but I’m much more interested in what people actually use it for and how it improves the quality of their lives.


On 2/13/07, Tom Coady <tom.coady@gmail.com> wrote:
> If Norwich can do it and pier2pier.net can do it between piers I can’t
> see what’s stopping the council from doing this:
> http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/5297884.stm

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was using the excellent accessible train timetable at traintimes.org just re-stumbled across the live trains map produced by mathew somerville who is linked to the lovely people at mysociety – they’re responsible for faxyourmp, pledgebank and lots of other fancy mashup style community stuff.
just reminded me how much clever stuff can be done with the new era of mashup web2.0 stuff
and made me think it’d be good to get something like a showcase element in the city information network meeting I’m planning for March

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What is our website for?

I discussed this with Peter today because I’m trying to get to grips with updating and improving it.
It’s got lots of promotional stuff about services, but almost no useful information or links to resources for our clients.
So we started talking about adding it by having a ‘useful stuff’ section where we list top tips and link to the excellent ICT Hub KnowledgeBase.
Here’s a site that seems to have got it right
ESP Projects
It’s a not for profit ICT project in the north west [of England] – nice site – built in Joomla and with lots of handy hints on it.
Oh but on another note it has no rate card – which is another thing we need to sort out on our site….

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