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Archive for the ‘TWIG’ Category

[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
centres
* 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.

Mark

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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