Salford City Council has unveiled plans to impart digital skills to the residents so that they can be confident of using digital technology.
It has launched two websites, MyCity Salford and My CityHealth, to be ‘owned’ by the local community as part of a campaign to increase the local level of digital engagement.
Salford is also working with the Good Things Foundation and private sector partners, including Barclays, Lloyds Bank and TalkTalk, to help 8,000 of its residents in using digital technology and the internet.
It has provided £180,000 funding for the programme, which involves building a network of community venues for face-to-face support and recruitment of volunteer ‘digital champions’ from local residents.
The MyCity Salford website enables people to create their online communities by posting details of events and local groups, creating an online marketplace, and sharing views.
A moderation system in the website removes any posts that prompt two complaints and places them in a queue for checking by a council employee.
MyCity Health provides information, advice and support to help people stay healthy.
Over the next four years, the council will invest £100,000 in upgrading IT in its libraries, where free IT and internet access are already being provided.
Salford City Council is the first local authority in the UK to partner with Barclays to train 200 council staff as ‘Digital Eagles’ to help colleagues improve their digital skills.
Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “We want to be the first city in the UK where everyone benefits from the digital revolution – everything from internet access and all the benefits that can bring to using data or technology to keep people independent in their own homes or create new products or services.
“We want to work with private sector partners to explore digital access. We already provide free internet access in our libraries but can we team up to go further and provide low or no cost internet access to residents in other ways? It’s about finding the barriers and getting around them.”
A council spokesperson said: “One of the ideas behind it is that we have a lot of ‘Friends of’ and community groups but not a lot of linkage between them. We hope the site will enable them to link up with each other.”