Wireless to Connect St Helens

Liverpool University is working with a local school to provide low-cost wireless access for a community in St Helens.
The first pilot of Community Grid is being rolled out from St Cuthbert’s Catholic Community College of Business and Enterprise in St Helens, initially providing access to 250 homes.
The service will be free of charge for a year, after which time users will have pay a subsidised fee.
‘This is a response to the government’s challenge to use of digital technologies to transform communities,’ said Dennis Kehoe, director of the Advanced Internet Methods and Emergent Systems (Aimes) Centre at the University of Liverpool.
‘We were one of the projects given the go-ahead in the North West. The key is to make it affordable and simple to overcome the price and technology barriers. We hope it will transform people’s lives.’
The project is jointly funded by the North West Development Agency, the European Regional Development Fund, St. Helen’s Neighbourhood Renewal Fund and registered social landlord Helena Housing.
Users will be provided with a thin-client system that will use broadband to link to a hosted service and provide direct access to selected areas of the internet and various software applications. Training and help desk support will be provided.
‘The grid will encourage a sense of community by providing a vehicle for publicising the activities already in place and helping create and promote new ones,’ said project manager Marie Messenger.
Online forums will be set up to cater for local interests and to connect people. ‘It brings community news and information on local activities, services and leisure into people’s homes.’
‘It will also allow schools and other education providers to support students online,’ said Messenger. ‘Housing associations, community groups, councils and health authorities can all be connected directly to this community of users.’
The network could also be used by retailers to offer services such as special offers on food, school uniforms and household goods, as well as offering e-learning opportunities

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