Fibre to the Future campaign to be launched to get residents and small businesses online

A council campaign to get more residents and small businesses online will be launched on Saturday 18 January 2014 on Cathedral Square.

Fibre to the Future aims to teach residents and companies the benefits of getting online through a series of initiatives running across the city. 

The Fibre to the Future bus will be the centre piece of the launch and will then take part in a week-long tour around Peterborough. The initiative aims to boost digital participation, especially among elderly and vulnerable residents

It’s estimated that one in ten, or around 20,000, city residents have never used the internet. The project’s focus is to educate residents on the benefits of learning these skills and then helping them to get the hang of the basics.  

People can access the internet at libraries across the city and various sheltered housing schemes provide computers to help their residents get online.

Fibre to the Future is part of the wider Connecting Cambridgeshire project which aims to roll-out superfast broadband to 98 per cent of properties in Peterborough and the rest of the county.

The initiative will also concentrate on aiding small businesses to use the internet to grow their company.  In order to develop young people’s digital skills at the same time, the ambition is that secondary school students will help to build websites for Peterborough companies as part of their schoolwork.

The Digital Drive tour will begin at Herlington Community Centre on Monday morning (20 January) where people can find out how the internet can help them stay in touch with friends, be used for shopping, to save money and to pay bills. The bus will then visit other areas of the city, sheltered housing schemes, local pubs and community centres throughout the week.  

A major aspect of the initiative will be to appoint a number of digital champions from across the city. These volunteers would then support family, friends, customers or members of their community as they develop their new skills and inspire others to discover the benefits of the internet.

Councillor David Seaton, Cabinet Member for Resources at Peterborough City Council, said: 
“Fibre to the Future will enable residents and businesses who currently don’t get online to use it for health, social and financial benefits. It will also help to equip our young people to develop their digital skills and build ties in the community. The government has made it clear that we are heading towards a digital future with their digital by default agenda so we have a duty to equip our residents.

“Peterborough is putting itself firmly on the digital map and the city is fast becoming somewhere where digital businesses will want to move to and create jobs.”

Mark Adams-Wright, Managing Partner Local Government Practice at O2 Telefonica, said: “I’m thrilled to see Peterborough City Council embracing a digital strategy in the form of ‘Fibre to the Future’. Technology holds the key to helping the public sector make crucial savings and delivering services to citizens efficiently and effectively, so we’re really encouraged that Peterborough has made this positive step to serve its community in a new way. 

“We support many local authorities through the O2 Local Government Digital Fund and hope they will also be encouraged by the financial and social benefits Peterborough will see by implementing this digital strategy.”

The Fibre to the Future digital participation project is being supported by a range of city partners including Age UK, DIAL, City College Peterborough and representatives from private and social landlords, including Hyde Housing.

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