Wednesday, December 27, 2006

One exciting prospect which is being discussed in Smart City circles at the moment is WiFi or the Wireless City. At first glance it is hard to spot the full potential of this but the longer you think about it the more useful it becomes. Imagine for example young people in schools being able to take the computer around from class to class instead of relying on how well kitted out each room was. Visitors would be able to get information on what to see and where to eat etc as they are walking round the city. Social Workers would be able to look at case work while on the move. You could get broadband in your house without the need for a land line.
The most exciting thing of all for me though is to be able to do something about the digital divide and digital exclusion. This divide exists within Edinburgh and the more we rely on new technology to provide services and deliver new ones the more we need to continue to address these issues of exclusion. This Labour administration is very proud of measures like free Internet access in all Libraries and the whole Peoples Network project and there are specific digital inclusion pilot projects planned for Gorgie Dalry and other areas of the City. Wireless would allow us to take this a stage further however by helping us to provide access to hard to reach or vulnerable groups such as people on benefits. Other cities such as Birmingham and Philadelphia are signing up to have WiFi across the city centre. It seems to me the Council should be involved in this but only if it helps us to run the Council more efficiently and also help is to fight digital exclusion.
With a background as a Computing teacher in a Secondary School (I still do some supply teaching) and the Council's Smart City person it was inevitable that I would set up a blog. I think this is a wonderful way to communicate directly with people so please feel free to make comments. There are not enough opportunities for people to tell Councillors and the Council what they think and this often leads to a sense of frustration and powerlessness. Well I'm here and I'm listening even though I may not always agree with everything everyone says.