The Community Access Program (CAP) is a federal government initiative administered by Industry Canada to help people in every community across Canada, achieve the economic and social benefits that are available through the worldwide Information Highway. CAP was first introduced in 1994 to provide Internet access for 5,000 communities having fewer than 50,000 residents in rural and remote areas of Canada. Recently, this target has been increased to 10,000 CAP sites and projects in urban centres are now being considered as suitable additions to the national community access network. Discussions between Industry Canada and the National Capital FreeNet suggest that a pilot CAP project in the National Capital region would clearly fall within the scope of the CAP program and that such a program could be useful as a model for the roll out of CAP projects into urban centres. The National Capital Access Project (NatCAP) has been conceived to accomplish this objective by providing some 75 publicly accessible Internet access sites in the National Capital region.
The National Capital Access Project (NatCAP) is proposed as a community-based partnership of key organizations of the National Capital region. The project at completion will have placed approximately 300 publicly accessible, fully equipped computer workstations, located in approximately 75 independent sites throughout the National Capital area. Each site will be equipped with modern Pentium-based computer terminals, with printing facilities and full interactive Internet access. Software for word processing, spreadsheet, E-mail and Internet browsing will be provided. While the main thrust of the project is to provide affordable computer and Internet access to all citizens in all income groups, special consideration will be given to low income groups; to seniors; and for community organizations within the region. The program will contribute significantly to the economy of the region by providing citizens with access to and high technology as well as a direct benefit to local e-commerce.
Specific programs will vary from centre to centre, reflecting the needs of each community, but in all cases, introductory level computer and Internet training will be offered. Training programs will also be developed for basic HTML coding, Web searching, Job searching, discussion groups and e-commerce.
The project is expected to be the principal means of Internet access for approximately 10,000 new Internet users.
The National Capital FreeNet will provide technical expertise and guidance for the project. In addition, NCF will provide typical services of an Internet Service Provider and will host E-mail, Web pages, electronic discussion groups, listserves, etc. Participants at each of the community access sites will be provided with NCF membership thus enabling them to make use of all services, features and help facilities of the organization. In addition, NCF will make its dial-up modem pool available for any of the participants who may choose to access the Internet from home.
This organization serves people of low income, particularly those who reside in public housing. T.A.P.P. has already placed over 25 computers in 6 access centres in the region. This project will allow T.A.P.P. to expand on and improve computer and Internet access to community centres for residents of public housing.
The Ottawa Boys and Girls Club has 6 centres in the region. Each centre will house fully equipped access centres. Programs will be tailored to youth, employment and distance education.
The Senior Citizens Council represents some 70 seniors organizations in the region. NatCAP will provide the means to equip all participating seniors activity centres and seniors residences with fully equipped access centres. Programs will be tailored to seniors, with special emphasis on health, travel and finance.
Many existing OPL branches are under-equipped or have no Internet access at all. NatCAP will enable OPL to ensure that all branches are properly and fully equipped with Internet-ready workstations. Libraries are judged to be ideal access sites because of their long hours of operation, convenient locations and access to a volunteer-based training system.
The Nepean Public Library has 4 locations; all with extended hours, all with convenient locations. NatCAP will allow the library to expand on a program already underway at the central branch in Ben Franklin Place and expand Internet services into all 4 branches.
OCED presence in the project will provide a truly regional community flavour as well as looking to ensure that the economic development needs of the community are well served, particularly in areas on employment, technology and job skills, tourism and e-commerce.
The City of Ottawa has some 25 community centres, conveniently dispersed throughout the City. These facilities publicly accessible sites are proposed as ideal community access centres.
Similarly, The City of Nepean has some 15 community centres, conveniently dispersed throughout the City. These publicly accessible facilities as well, are proposed as ideal community access centre sites.
Sun Microsystems has expressed an (unconfirmed as yet) interest in providing servers and E-mail software for the central servers which are to be operated by The National Capital FreeNet.