Welcome to Telecommunities Canada 1997 Conference


August 15-18, 1997 Halifax, Nova Scotia

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Universal Access Workshop - Document 2 of 4


	Electronic Public Space Steering Group
		Ottawa, Spring 1997.

This is a preliminary working model, drafted for the purpose
of  consultation. The goal is to define a flexible model which
can be adopted  by communities across Canada. The purpose of
a common model is to help  facilitate the development and
sustainability of public space community  networks. The model
is being developed by public interest groups concerned  with
community networking and public space, working under the
umbrella of  an informal national electronic public space
Steering Group.


In Canada's emerging information highway environment,
citizen groups have  begun to create electronic public space,
also known as a "public lane" or   an "electronic commons".

As the new practices, norms and "rules of the road" are
established over the  next few years for the Information
Highway and the introduction of new,  innovative commercial
services, it is also important that electronic public space
being developed is made widely available to meet Canadians'
daily  social, cultural and citizenship needs. Electronic public
space is a shared  learning space.  It is the community that is
the network, not the  technology.  The creation of a community
network extends the idea of  community into a shared
electronic public space, a new not-for-profit  transaction
space where the impact on community values and social 
interaction is worked out in new ways.


Public Space Community Networking facilitates the further
growth of a national system of interconnected local (e.g.,
electronic or computer-based  communication) networks which
are to be used for full public participation and interaction in
computer mediated communications forums and in the 
production, dissemination and use of not-for-profit
communication and information resources between:
individuals; not-for-profit organizations and institutions;
different levels of government and their agencies and 
institutions; and community groups. (Note: "local"is a flexible
concept  which can mean a single community or could include a
number of communities or locations across several hundreds
of kilometres where necessary, i.e.,  rural and remote
locations, or a province-wide system, e.g. an Atlantic 

The role of community networking is primarily to ensure open
access by  members of a community to a not-for-profit public
space, facilitating  self-expression, education, learning and
social and cultural participation.  The importance of this
shared electronic public space does not derive from  the
technology, but from the ability of community members to
interact and  participate in not-for-profit information and
communication  activities in new ways.  This includes: the
production of public information content;  access to, the
exchange and use of, information; broad-based education and 
learning; literacy and skills training. These networks serve
social  functions that are not in competition with private
commercial service  providers.  Rather they serve to achieve
an equitable balance among economic and  democratic


The local administrative models for electronic public space
should be  flexible to accommodate the different needs and
institutional practices of  each community.

Community networks should, where circumstances permit:

*Be administered at the local level by an incorporated
not-for-profit  organization, with an elected board
which features both not-for-profit  community
organizations and institutions and individual citizen 
representatives.  Organizations may also wish to
establish a membership;

Communities will determine the most appropriate mix of
local public organizations to be represented on their
boards. Provision should be made, where circumstances
permit, to include: existing community networks; 
community health; education; publicly funded libraries;
municipalities;  labour organizations; volunteer and
community services; and individual  citizens.  The mix of
organizations should reflect the broad community 
interest.  Private groups which do not represent the
broad community  interest, such as political parties and
religious groups, should not be Board members; 

*Engender a high level of citizen participation and
community involvement  in the design and operation of
the network and in content development and  availability;

*Facilitate self-expression through free and open access
by members of  the community, within the laws of

* Alone or in partnership with public or private sector
organizations,  provide training and facilities and other
forms of assistance for the  creation of local content
and to facilitate learning and literacy. Where  feasible,
this should include the establishment of a local content 
production site, availability to the public of required
equipment, staff  assistance, and training;

* Provide for the delivery, access to and use of:
government information;  community and community
organization information; publicly funded library 
services; education and distance learning; employment
training; community  health; and cultural information
resources which are free or primarily  not-for-profit in

* Provide access to public information resources available
at the national  or regional levels, or other communities
in addition to local information  resources;

*Administer operational policies for acceptable use of
electronic public  space community networks;

* Enter into partnerships, cooperative or similar
arrangements with  commercial interests, different
levels of government and others where this does not
impinge or undermine the overall public interest purpose
of these  services;

* Provide separately, or with public and private sector
partners,  affordable and different forms of technical
access, where necessary.  This  may require a process
that resolves issues surrounding apparent competition
over access among ISP's and community networks ;

* Produce a public Annual Report with audited financial


Public Space Community Networks are intended to operate as
not-for-profit  services.

With respect to commercial activities:

* Community networks should not provide for the
commercial exchange of  information;

* Where financial transactions for products or services do
occur (e.g,  government documents, membership fees,
cost recovery transactions), these  should be undertaken
on a not-for-profit basis (full or partial cost  recovery);

* Commercial advertising would not be permitted,
however, commercial  sponsorships should be permitted.
Sponsorships will be one of the necessary  means of
generating operating revenues for these services;

*All revenues from sponsorship should be reinvested in
community networks  for such purposes as the operation
of the networks, content development,  training and
learning activities, among others.


Interconnection of local community networks and content
services into a  national Public Space Community Network
system is integral to  computer-based public networking,
which facilitates both geographically  defined and "virtual"
communities. Interconnection is a prerequisite to  ensure all
Canadians are able to access local, regional and national public 
information resources, and therefore benefit from these

Local networks should ensure that all community
organizations using a  particular local network as an
originating site, receive priority in terms  of menu position
(availability and access to content) over regional,  national or
other services.


Generally, the main purposes of Public Space Community
Networks should be  those of access to, and participation in,
the creation and exchange of  public information, content
development and availability, broad social and  formal
education, learning, and training.

With respect to access as physical connectivity rather than
participation,  these networks should, where possible, provide
different levels of  technical access (quality of service) to
accommodate citizens' needs,  including addressing the
affordability barriers which exist for individuals  and
locations. These networks should also, where possible, provide 
different types of technical access, including
telephone-modem,  cable-modem, wireless and other means of
interconnection between different  networks, service
providers and users.

For content development, given that network management
resources may be  limited, local networks should give priority
to working with citizens and  the community at large in the
development of the types of local content  which should be
produced to meet local needs. The local network  organization
should ensure that no group or individual dominates in the 
production of content, as the subject of the content.

Public Space Community Networks should be sensitive to and
reflect the  bilingual and multicultural nature and
characteristics of their  communities. Efforts should be made
to meet the needs of people with  disabilities and other
community groups.


Some communities may decide that the organizational model
which offers the  greatest funding opportunities is that of an
incorporated not-for-profit  charitable organization.  Some
communities may decide that a basic not-for-profit model
meets their needs, and that charitable status may limit their
potential role.

In either approach, using a cooperative model, community
networks may be  able to realize cost savings by aggregating
funds (demand) and by entering  into transactions in a
collective way for products and services.  For the  purposes of
fund raising and other forms of support, a not-for-profit 
institutional structure will permit community networks to
pursue a range of  different means of securing resources to
meet developmental and  sustainability needs.

Depending upon the not-for-profit model adopted, financing
and other forms  of support could include, among others:

	*   Local resources and contributions;

	*   Different levels of government;

	*   Private sector partnerships and contributions;

	*   Donations;

	*   Cost sharing/contributions from organization

	*   Memberships.


A national Public Space Community Network not-for-profit
organization will  be required to undertake a number activities
and roles which are not  possible at the community level. 
These include such activities as: liaising  and making
representation with the federal government on policy and 
regulatory issues; liaising with other levels of government;
liaising with  private sector partners who operate at the
national as opposed to the local  level; and undertake other
initiatives where there is a continuing need for  the
development and redistribution of different forms of support
and  contribution.  The national organization should also act as
a conduit among  local organizations, and act on their behalf,
where appropriate, at the  national/regional levels.

As with the local administrative model, the national
organization should be  an incorporated not-for-profit, and
administered by a small staff. The  Board should be comprised
of members of national agencies or organizations 
representing the interests of the local not-for-profit
organizations and  services.  Membership on the Board should
rotate on a regular basis to ensure that the wide range of
public and consumer interests have the  opportunity to be
represented.  Representatives from the wireless, cable, 
telephony and satellite industry should be included as
observers and  resource persons to the Board and should be
selected from companies who are  actually sponsors of
community networks.  Proposed public interest and  consumer
organizations would include: libraries (e.g.,Canadian Library 
Association, ASTED); education; community networks;
community health;  labour; volunteer organizations; community
services; consumer and public  interest groups; groups
representing people with disabilities;  municipalities; public
arts and cultural organizations; public  museums/archives,
among others.

In general, the mandate of the national organization should be

* Support communities in the development and
establishment of local  networks;

*Promote the establishment of local organizations to
manage and operate  networks at the local level;

*Negotiate for financial and other forms of support with
governments, the  private sector and other public sector

*Develop methods for the redistribution of resources
accrued at the  national/regional levels to local
networks or, to organizations producing  content for
these networks;

*Engage in other activities which are in the interest of
promoting or  developing these networks.

*Produce a public Annual Report with audited financial