As previously mentioned on this blog, I spent some time in the early stages of my research collecting details of locations in South Yorkshire where local residents could go to learn about the computers and the internet. The problem with this information has been how to make it useful beyond its immediate purpose, which was to inform local authorities about what was already happening in their local area. Most people who don’t use the internet won’t find out how to learn about the internet by going to Google (or another search engine, yes I know they do exist). Most will be shown or given this information by a third party, often a relative or friend but increasingly librarians, salespeople in shops, landlords and others who do not know an individuals circumstances so well or have a large amount of time to pass on the information.
In the run up to the Transport Hack Day organised by GIST and SYPTE I was musing on what I could do with the data to make it more useful. Many people who are digitally excluded are from low income households where they are more likely to make use of public transport from necessity. As such, it occurred that integrating an option into the existing information they receive from sites such as UK Online Centres when they search for centres near their postcode would reduce potential barriers to them deciding to try and visit. For friendly help from third parties, it will help to reduce the amount of unhelpful information they give out, for example, I looked on behalf of my Nana who lives in a different city to me, if I’d have been able to say ‘There’s a centre on ICT Avenue, courses run at 3pm on Thursdays and it looks like the number 93 will take you direct from the end of your street at 2:15 and get you to just outside the centre at 2:45’ that would have (a) been useful information and (b) made her intrigued where I got that information from.
I put this idea forward at the hack day and a big thank you is in order for Tim Rivett, Head of Information and Technology at SYPTE as it was he who took my data, linked it to http://www.transportdirect.info/ data, and took my idea from ‘Could we possibly…?’ to each postcode generating a personalised link that would take the location information of the centre and auto complete to the ‘to’ section of the form. Transport Direct is a national public transport information source, so in theory it should be possible to create something very similar for the UK Online Centres website.
I intend to contact UK Online Centres regarding this and hopefully something will come of it in the near future. If you like this idea and want to use it, please do, but please apply Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license Also, if you do use this in your work, it would be really good if you could send me a link to what you do so that I can promote it/ and or marvel at what you’ve done.