Communities Online conference
October 1995 report
In October 1995 Urban Forum and
for Tomorrow ran a conference
at BT Centre on the theme of Communities Online, funded by BT
Community Affairs. Plans for the conference were developed following
at the the Urban Forum annual meeting of April 1995.
At the conference we demonstrated a bulletin board system which could
be used as the basis for an online information system for
community-based projects. It used the same user-friendly software -
First Class - as the Regen.Net system backed by the Department of the
Environment for `official' partners in local regeneration
Our pilot system was developed on an existing system called pHreak
operated by Intermedia Associates.
Plenary session conclusions
At the end of the conference, participants in the plenary session
concluded that the task for the Community Regeneration Network is
- Help people get online and
provide them with support.
- Develop an online system which
provides a communications infrastructure and easily accessible
information for the sector.
The system should cater for a range
of users: individuals, groups, organisations, networks. Some will
already be online, but many will not.
The online system should enable users to have public and private
conversation (email, use of conference and chat areas), and also
provide substantial information resources.
The immediate implications for development are then:
- Create the technical platform -
the hub computer (server) with direct dial in and Internet access.
(At present pHreak performs this function for the demo and
- Recruit a core of active users,
ranging from individuals to network organisations.
- Provide training and
- Encourage users to upload their
own information, and target some major information
- Manage the technical and
editorial development of the system, support, training
- Monitor and evaluate the
experience during a pilot period, then market more widely through
a range of media.
The way forward is by:
- Gaining the commitment of major
network organisations who can provide users, information, and
endorsement. These organisations include Urban Forum, the
Development Trusts Association, BASSAC,
- Community Development Foundation,
and the Standing Conference on Community Development.
- Mounting a one-year pilot to work
through the issues above, and develop a longer-term structure and
business plan. The development work would be closely linked with
the 'real world' development of Urban Forum and other national and
- During the pilot refine the scope
and positioning of the system: the topics it would cover, the
target audiences, the pricing structure and editorial
- The pilot will be managed by
members of the Partnerships for Tomorrow network, working with
Intermedia Associates and key network organisations.
- For the longer term the working
assumption is the Network will operate through a non-profit
company earning revenue through user subscriptions and contract
Following the conference, BT Community Affairs invited
for Tomorrow to submit
proposals for developing the Community Regeneration Network. David
Wilcox started work on the project in March 1996.
Early feasibility work with Richard Stubbs suggested that it would be
more fruitful to develop a system on World Wide Web, rather than the
FirstClass system, and to broaden the scope to include community
networking. This work led to the formation of Communities
Prepared by David
September 23 1996
This page URL http://www.partnerships.org.uk/events/oct95.html