What we are doing now
Advances in digital technology are changing how cities deliver service and the ways they engage with citizens. Digital technology creates opportunities that can:
- Improve service
- Meet the increase in demand for an online presence
- Optimize organizational and infrastructure investments
- Strengthen the local economy
The City already makes a significant investment into digital services and infrastructure every year. For example:
- The launch of vancouver.ca with its improved interface and user experience, and more efficient content management system
- The City’s policy development in the area of telecommunications infrastructure (antenna installations on City-owned poles), commitment to real-time transportation information for citizens, and plans for a GIS-based wayfinding map system for pedestrians
- 311’s at-home agent pilot and the employee mobility strategy
Each initiative realizes multiple benefits through improved service, increased options for citizens and businesses, or long-term cost savings.
Bridging the digital divide to help everyone participate
Only 54% of households with incomes of $30,000 or less have home Internet access, notes Statistics Canada.
That's a dramatic difference from households with incomes of more than $87,000 – the top bracket in the study – where 97% have home Internet access.
More recently, the Environics market research firm reports that, in Vancouver, 17% of city homes do not have Internet access, and 5% of homes that do have Internet are using low-speed dial-up access.
As such, these homes have a limited ability to participate in the high-speed digital world, which is filled with multimedia and streaming content for news, entertainment, education, community engagement, and more.
Vancouver helps bridge the divide with computers, Wi-Fi, and free courses
While Canadians continue to rank among the world's top Internet users, joining and participating in the online world is not easy for everyone. Digital skills and ability vary dramatically by age and income.
The City of Vancouver has already made a significant investment in addressing the digital divide through the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) system of 22 branches. Specifically, VPL provides:
- Over 400 computers with Internet connectivity and office software
- Over 100 additional computers connected to subscription e-resources and government information
- Free wireless (Wi-Fi) access throughout their branches
In 2012, these computers were used by more than 90,000 individual community members who logged 15,000 hours per week of computer time, and generated 1.4 million internet sessions. Community members also initiated more than 590,000 wireless sessions.
In 2012, VPL also offered more than 80 free basic and advanced computer, Internet, and social media courses, reaching more than 700 participants. Drop-in training and one-on-one sessions reached more than 1,000 residents who needed help using technology.