Source: National Office for the Information Economy
Posted: 11:41 am 06-02-2004
This paper outlines some of the themes that can be seen as Australian communities attain a critical mass of connectivity. It describes what a few communities are choosing to do with their connectivity, how they have gone about it, and some of their early outcomes.
Contact Name: Mr Peter Huta, National Office for the Information Economy
New ways of communicating and exchanging information online are transforming Australian communities. People are increasingly using the Internet as a primary tool for obtaining information, sending messages, completing commercial transactions with government and business and obtaining online educational and entertainment services.
Once online, it becomes easy to send a greeting to a friend overseas and to send off an assignment to school or university. A day home with a sick child can still be productive, since a day’s work can be sent over a network. Paying bills, researching a holiday or commenting on a local planning proposal – the possibilities are endless. The tyranny of distance is lessening for rural, regional and traffic clogged city areas in Australia.
The Internet is also an important tool for community activities. It is being used to arrange neighbourhood gatherings, organise sporting events, petition local politicians, provide input to government consultation processes and join communities-of-interest online.
The potential for online technologies to facilitate social inclusion and local community development has been well recognised both in Australia and internationally.
High levels of connectivity can generate a wide variety of economic benefits for all sections of the community. Connectivity can reduce the cost of transactions and help make services more efficient. Businesses, community organisations and individuals can access wider or new markets and client groups, more diverse information and improved communications. Highly networked communities are finding that local social capital  and economic development work in tandem. As the technological and skill base grows, it provides support for local industries and a stimulus for developing new applications and services.
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