NCF Executive Director’s Annual Report (for year 2003)
NCF began in 1992 with a mission to be an "online public commons" for the national capital region – a place for residents to connect to the internet, exchange ideas with each other, to find information about local communities and community organizations.
I’m pleased that in 2003, thanks to sponsorship from the
Membership and donations, two key indicators, are both up. Membership showed steady growth over the year finishing with just under 8200 active members, and donations from members increased to $180,182 (increases of approximately 20% over the year).
Significant Achievements in 2003
Ten years is a long
time in the technology world, and NCF’s infrastructure was in dire need of
repair. Too much staff and volunteer
time was spent just keeping the old system running. In 2003, we were able to address these
problems with the help of Industry
A good database is now at the heart of many new services and features (such as the improved registration process) and continues to allow for the rapid implementation of many new services. We really benefit by this work.
Many members rely on NCF modems for their connection to the internet, so significant attention was paid to improving dial-up facilities. In June, all phone lines were upgraded to fully digital services. The modem servers were upgraded to the most advanced available – V.92 running at 56k bps with V.44 compression. The V.92 technology allows members with appropriate modems to take advantage of faster downloads and a call waiting feature.
The number of dial-up lines was also increased from 176 to 184 in June and then to 276 in October. We now have 65% more modems than in 2002.
Spam (unsolicited email, usually advertising) is problem for many people around the world. In October, NCF introduced technology that was developed by the NCF development team called “NCF SpamFilter”. SpamFilter technology permits members to have better control of what goes into their mailbox, allowing selective delivery of email from local residents and people they know. Email from other sources (probably spam) is analyzed by SpamAssassin (an open source content analysis tool). Mail from unknown sources that is clearly spam is automatically deleted, and questionable mail is held. Review is held mail is made easy, quick, and safe, using tools developed by NCF.
Selective Delivery using the NCF SpamFilter has been very successful for NCF members. Nearly a thousand members are using it already.
The NCF Internet Desktop or iDesk was announced and tested by members in 2003. The most popular applications are Microsoft Word, Excel, Corel WordPerfect and Corel Draw. Although current usage is below expectation, I believe that with additional applications this service could become valued by more members.
The “Personal StartPage” is the core of NCF’s new web-based services. The StartPage shows at a glance activity in your account (eg., number of new mail messages, activity in discussion groups you’ve selected) and keeps people in touch with NCF and the world (thanks to news from CBC, which can be customized to show headlines from a dozen focus areas). About a quarter of NCF members now use their startPage on a regular basis.
Its really great to see so many members taking an active interest in supporting the NCF. Not only are an increasing number of members covering their costs with a $60 donation but a growing number of members are contributing $100, $200 or even more to help keep the NCF afloat. I am also proud of the 574 members that donated a total of more than $15,000 to the NCF development fund. These funds are helping in the development of a variety of new member services as part of the rejuvenation of the NCF.
I have received many positive emails regarding our success in stopping spam from being an issue for NCF members. I am hoping that the growing number of members using their personal start page and the NCF SpamFilter is an indication of member’s approval for our efforts and their belief in the role community plays in everyone’s quality of life.
2004 & Beyond
In the first half of 2004, we’ll be continuing rejuvenation of NCF services and infrastructure. Together we will continue to build the applications to facilitate residents connecting to the internet, exchanging ideas, finding out about local communities and organizations as well as helping those groups reach out to their public. You can help the NCF by encouraging your friends and local communities awareness of NCF’s high quality services combined with its ideals of cooperation and community.
At any time, I’d appreciate your comments and suggestions. You can reach me by phone at the NCF office (520-2600 ext 8024) and by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).