Hervey Bay in Transition: The Role of Community-Based Information Technology in Overcoming the Great Digital Divide
Wayne Pease (University of Southern Queensland, Australia), Lauretta Wright (University of Southern Queensland, Australia) and Malcolm Cooper (University of Southern Queensland, Australia)
Copyright: © 2008
In regional Australia there is a growing interest and investment in community capacity building and this is beginning to be formalised in a desire to integrate information communications technology opportunities with other forms of community development. This paper explores the opportunity for greater social integration based on the formation of community-based information communication technology (ICT) driven organizations, using a case study approach. It is suggested that whether disseminating information, collaborating with other communities, assisting the development of new industries, or simply by sharing the lessons learned along the way, community-based IT can assist and support a community’s economic and social development. Further, the paper supports the view that, where understanding and developing new forms of information technology through community informatics is accepted as an integral part of such development, communities will not just ‘improve the old’ but will more radically restructure themselves towards a knowledge-based future. The case study that underpins these observations is that of the development of Bay Connect, a community-based Internet development and training project, begun in Hervey Bay with Networking the Nation support, and which is now expanding into the adjacent Maryborough and surrounding Shires. It is also supported by the University of Southern Queensland’s Wide Bay and has an emergent role in supporting new and existing IT businesses, Bay Connect and the Hervey Bay City Council, in the creation and nurturing of an IT skills base within the region.