Touch-screen kiosks with free access to information and the Internet have been rolled out in Manchester as part of a six-month experiment to help the technologically disadvantaged. Six NEC kiosks have been strategically placed in locations around the city, including Manchester City Library, a community centre in Moss Side, a branch of Asda supermarket and offices of The Big Issue.
Part-funded by EU research cash, the kiosks deliver a mix of community information, news, public service announcements and advice on training, housing and employment to the unemployed, homeless and elderly.
"We realise six isn't a lot so we're looking at ways to cross-fund them through advertising or possibly getting shops to host them," said Vic Sumner of the Sema Group, the Anglo-French computer services group which masterminded the project.
Casual users of the kiosks get a basic service with access to prescheduled Web pages stored in memory. An extended service with email and connections to the wider Internet is available, provided users fill out a registration form. According to Sumner, registration information is used to create profiles which can then be used to deliver targeted services. For instance, employment training information can be "pushed" to a registered jobless plumber as he/she searches "situations vacant".
For more information about the scheme contact Ariane Labadens at Sema on 0171 830 4233 or at ([email protected]).
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