0429 Conferenc Presentation

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  • 0429 Conferenc Presentation

    1. 1. A communications policy perspective on CTC sustainability in regional Australia: commercial viability and social good Will Tibben University of Wollongong CTN Conference 30 April 2008
    2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>The presentation covers the following: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why a communication policy analysis? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A Sustainability framework derived from a communications policy analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The framework applied to CTC case studies. </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. What is a CTC <ul><li>A Community Technology Centre (CTC) provides public access to computers, Internet, printers, scanners and other forms of ICTs (information and communication technologies). </li></ul>
    4. 4. They are also known as… <ul><li>Telecentres, </li></ul><ul><li>teleservice centres, </li></ul><ul><li>online access centres, </li></ul><ul><li>community media centres </li></ul><ul><li>telecottages </li></ul><ul><li>? </li></ul>
    5. 5. CTCs have a rich history <ul><li>Earliest reference (1987) to a place called Faergelanda in Sweden – an adult education school provided training in using personal computers. </li></ul><ul><li>Community centred and inspired with help from regional government and rural development organisations </li></ul>
    6. 6. In the USA… <ul><li>CTC history is connected with social disadvantage in USA cities and the Internet </li></ul>
    7. 7. In Australia… <ul><li>Rural development provided the impetus for CTC (telecentre) development. </li></ul><ul><li>These early centres along with Rural Transaction Centres (RTCs) provided a useful platform for the CTC initiative between 2000-2005. </li></ul>
    8. 8. CTCs - popular vehicle for international development <ul><li>CTCs are enormously popular throughout Africa, Asia and South America. </li></ul><ul><li>Check out the website for telecentre.org - a public-private partnership between : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IDRC – International Development and Research Centre </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government of Canada </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Microsoft – Unlimited Potential Program </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SDC - Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. CTCs and the Digital Divide <ul><li>CTCs are presented as an effective response to the Digital Divide. Why? </li></ul><ul><li>CTCs are generally effective in engaging with communities at a local level. </li></ul><ul><li>CTCs are effective in responding to a variety of information related needs </li></ul>
    10. 10. CTCs in regional Australia <ul><li>The sale of telecommunications incumbent Telstra provided the funding for an ambitious plan to establish CTCs in regional areas of Australia in 2000 (Networking the Nation Scheme). </li></ul><ul><li>On the presentation of a suitable business plan and an organisation to auspice the CTC, communities were granted funds to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>purchase equipment; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>rent premises; and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>employ a manager </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. CTCs in regional Australia <ul><li>Common to all proposals was the date from which funding would cease – June 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>My investigation of CTCs has been limited to NSW (CTC@NSW). </li></ul>
    12. 12. [email_address] <ul><li>Two years on the net number of CTCs in NSW has increased. </li></ul><ul><li>The CTCA (CTC Association in NSW) is in a relatively strong financial position to maintain a leadership role for a few years into the future. </li></ul>
    13. 13. A successful outcome? <ul><li>The apparent success masks a considerable amount of work by CTC managers and the CTCA collective to manage very limited funds. </li></ul>
    14. 14. A successful outcome? <ul><li>Only three CTCs out of (approximately) seventy are commercially independent. </li></ul><ul><li>The majority rely on support from local government by way of </li></ul><ul><ul><li>provision of premises; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>grants; and/or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>payment of utility costs (electricity and/or telecommunications) </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Diversity of needs – a diversity of outcomes <ul><li>Its amazing to witness the variety of strategies that have been instituted by CTC managers and committed groups of enthusiastic volunteers throughout NSW. </li></ul>
    16. 16. Examples <ul><li>All provide public access to computers, the Internet, printers, scanners fax etc </li></ul><ul><li>Email is a major application, as is word processing. </li></ul><ul><li>Young people interact using social technologies such as My Space and Bebo </li></ul>
    17. 17. Community Newspapers <ul><li>Community newspapers have been a natural extension of CTC activities. </li></ul><ul><li>Provides a useful way to engage with community members. </li></ul><ul><li>Generates revenue from advertising </li></ul>
    18. 18. Other information products <ul><li>Book publications, websites, e-commerce portals, DVDs, CDs, photography exhibitions. </li></ul><ul><li>Tourists information, oral histories, cook books, short stories, auto biographies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Time intensive so tend to be “one off” rather than ongoing (cf newspapers) </li></ul></ul>
    19. 19. ICT Training <ul><li>Some CTCs offer training courses. </li></ul><ul><li>In many cases, CTCs have become a “quasi-formal” training outlet catering for those who do not wish to attain formal certificates </li></ul>
    20. 20. Community building <ul><li>Some CTCs contribute to the running of the local Chamber of Commerce. </li></ul><ul><li>Homework centres for children </li></ul><ul><li>Orders of Service for Funerals figure prominently in the case study accounts </li></ul><ul><li>Business cards </li></ul>
    21. 21. Community building <ul><li>CTCs are found to respond to local problems by running activities that meet local needs. </li></ul><ul><li>CTC responses and programs are shaped by the background (expertise) of the manager. </li></ul>
    22. 22. A one-stop shop for all of your ICT questions <ul><li>CTCs are often the first port of call for local business and private individuals experiencing problem with their PCs. </li></ul><ul><li>Its not feasible to charge a fee for this kind of enquiry. </li></ul>
    23. 23. In summary, <ul><li>CTCs provide an interface to the “ICT revolution” in regional Australia. </li></ul><ul><li>CTCs are notable for the central place they hold in their town’s information economy. </li></ul>
    24. 24. Normative Assumptions <ul><li>What ideas inspired the CTC@NSW program? </li></ul><ul><li>My assessment… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a belief in entrepreneurship; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a belief in economic markets; and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>no long term role for Government </li></ul></ul>
    25. 25. Normative Assumptions <ul><li>This represents a departure from the propositions laid in communications policy in Australia. </li></ul><ul><li>Telecommunication and Broadcasting </li></ul>
    26. 26. Normative Assumptions
    27. 27. A key question <ul><li>In the light of current evidence (since July 2005) was the departure from established norms justified? </li></ul>
    28. 28. Entrepreneurship was a winner <ul><li>The response of CTC managers and volunteers indicates high levels of creativity and commitment to their local communities </li></ul>
    29. 29. The economic reality in regional Australia <ul><li>Drought in rural areas, structural re-adjustment to changing industry base (eg fishing and timber) </li></ul><ul><li>Its illogical to think that a CTC will withstand circumstances that are closing banks, schools and supermarkets. </li></ul>
    30. 30. The reality of the economics of information <ul><li>Information is a commodity but only to a limited extent (Arrow? and Lamberton). </li></ul>
    31. 31. Market Failure <ul><li>The circumstances of the majority of CTCs reflects a situation of market failure – ie social good outcomes but insufficient commercial incentive </li></ul>
    32. 32. Governments are no longer responsible for market failure? <ul><li>Federal governments claims they are no longer obliged to respond to market failure if suitable alternatives exist. </li></ul><ul><li>In relation to CTCs they point to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>volunteers and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Local Government. </li></ul></ul>
    33. 33. Social development theory <ul><li>Midgley outlines four alternatives in the development of development paradigms. </li></ul>
    34. 34. Social development theory <ul><ul><li>Neo-liberal – let the market rule and three cheers for entrepreneurship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A new set of rules – fill in your ideas here </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A combination of entrepreneurship and strategic intervention by the state. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Approaches that incorporate the paradigms from non-European traditions </li></ul></ul>
    35. 35. Thankyou <ul><li>Thanks to the managers, volunteers and customers of the CTCs who participated in these studies. </li></ul>
    36. 36. <ul><li>Its now time for your questions and comments. </li></ul>

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