Australian Community Networking Alliance (ACNA)

In Australia, there is a close association with the Community Information Centre movement, and a very close connection between CN's and the social service community. "The CIC's are volunteer run locations where members of the community can drop in to get a wide range of "community" information --pensions, immigration, schooling etc. The Community Networks are developing out of these CICs as they get the means to bring themselves on-line. What this means is that in contrast to Canada, the CNs in Australia are beginning from a very rich information and volunteer base." (Michael Gurstein). ACNA is a loose coalition of groups and organizations, represented by 7 states, intended "to draw in" participation in community networking and to lobby for its concerns. There is a federal council that meets online (Web Board based), every two months, and a small management group.

Represented at ECN98 by:
Ken Young
Executive Director
Australian Community Networking Alliance (ACNA)
4/136 Exhibition Street
Melbourne, Victory 3000, Australia
Tel: 61-419-345-401
Fax(?): 61-3-9650-5322

There was a motion to organize at the March 1998 conference and founding meeting in May 1998

Web Board -

In Australia, the idea of community is being challenged by the rapid pace of change. Australia is a society of "early adapters" responding to a landscape of vast distances. 23% have used the Net in the last 12 months. Telecommunications has been deregulated and the monopoly of a single service provider has been removed. The major challenge is ensuring that what is available for the privileged is made available for the less privileged. "We face the tyranny of distance and the tyranny of including a broad range of concerns." The May 1998 founding meeting established certain core values to direct ACNA's implementation:

  • grounded in the every day life of the local
  • democratic decision making
  • access and equity in training and support ("bringing in all the people")
  • volunteers
  • empowerment and learning
  • advocacy and communications about connecting many to many.

BCNET, Barcelona Xarxa Ciutadana

BCNET is the web based local community network for the City of Barcelona It's the product of a partnership between the City and cANet (Center for Internet Applications) of the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya. It provides "a platform for integration of community services at the local level." It is being designed from the bottom up as "the network of networks in Barcelona...the sum of all the small nets."

cANet's focus is on "the design of the next generation of Internet based communities, applications and services: digital universities, virtual companies, security and certification authorities, community networks and smart cities,...and their integration mechanisms."

The sources of funding for ECN98 were entirely local, from Barcelona and Catalonia. This is primary evidence of how seriously BCNET views the issues of getting community networks onto the European Commission EDC agenda and sharing national experience through the formalization of EACN. The city of Barcelona is an active participant in the European Digital Cities (EDC) programme. But the city is not waiting for an integration of community networks and Telecities. It is acting on this agenda on its own. It actively seeks out and supports "virtual communities" of associations, districts (a formal unit of city government, see for example
the site for the district of Sants-Montjuic) and neighbourhoods (see for example TEB at , an independent youth organization in Raval, dedicated to self education and finding jobs).

Represented at ECN98 by:
Artur Serra
Director, BCNET
Research Manager, Centre for Internet Applications (cANet)
Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya.
Campus Nord. Gran Capita, s/n , Modul D6-008
Barcelona 08034
Tel, +34-3-4017182
Fax, +34-3-4017055



"Our challenge is to try to open the community networking movement to the possibility of being an active protagonist in the definition of the future of digital cities."


Telecities: the European Digital Cities (EDC) Partnership

Telecities is an "open network for concerted urban development through telematics." EDC is a European Commission sponsored project that includes Telecities as a partner. Telecities' objective is to achieve a common definition for telematics applications that support the regeneration of urban areas through:

  • Economic development strategies to tackle unemployment, including teleworking
  • Social development and improved quality of life
  • New solutions to fight social exclusion
  • Maximizing the benefits of the Information Society in the urban environment

By providing an open cooperation network for concerted urban development through Telematics, the European Digital Cities project aims to accelerate the deployment of cost-effective telematics solutions responding to a common definition of the "urban demand" for telematics services and applications. The scope of this project covers a number of networking activities by cities, towns and regions with a view to laying the foundations of the Global Information Society as outlined by the G7 world conference of Feb.'95, the Delors White Paper and the Bangemann report.

Through this open network, local authorities have access to an important forum for information exchange and expertise which enable policy and decision makers more effectively to promote the development of new urban telematics systems and services, based on knowledge and 'best practice' derived at the European level. By undertaking concerted activities on telematics applications in urban and surrounding areas and measuring the development of urban telematics and the contribution that these are making to economic and social growth, the project also seeks to establish a consensus on appropriate technological solutions to the challenges facing urban areas in Europe.

Telecities was described at ECN98 by the Barcelona City Hall contact for the Telecities Network, Tere Sera. But the formal contact is:
Eric Mino, General Secretary

Telecities Coordination Office c/o Eurocities Office, 18, square de Meeus B-1050 Brussels Tel: (32) 2 552 08 68 Fax: (32) 2 552 08 89 ISDN : +32 2 502 96 03 (videoconference)


  • Telecities began in 1993. Its first annual general meeting and steering committee election was April 1994.

  • EDC was launched January 1, 1996, when four networks (Telecities, POLIS, Car Free Cities, and the Eurocities Transport Committee) joined together under the umbrella of a 3 year project funded by the Telematics Applications Programme of the European Commission.


"To overcome resistance and fear about the future, Europe needs a series of demonstration projects in real situations: at real sites with the enablers and the users in a real market environment. Cities and towns are, by their very nature, best suited to represent - at the local democratic level- the 'chemistry' of all the social, economic and cultural changes of the Information Society. This is why the Commission welcomes the bottom up initiatives of a large number of cities and regions to cooperate to identify the European dimension of local developments.

Telecities brings together cities and towns sharing similar interests and goals for the development of telematics applications in an urban context. It is essential to maintain a high profile for local authorities/city governments, as the democratic expression of user needs and demand in the urban context. This level of political commitment that Telecities has from the most senior politicians representing local interests across Europe, is what differentiates Telecities from other initiatives and networks, and is why Telecities stresses the importance of universal access to the information society and of support for cultural and linguistic diversity at all levels.

Telecities provides an open cooperation network for European Digital Cities, with:

  • an elected Steering Committee;
  • internal rules;
  • open registration fostering wide consensus building and exchange of experience;
  • working groups to address major urban issues identified by policy and decision makers and proposed for R&TD at the European level;
  • open forums for discussion and information dissemination;
  • a who's who presenting individual members;
  • joint pilot projects, to promote the exchange of experience and examine the issues related to the development of Digital Cities;
  • liaison with other initiatives related to the Information Society;
  • support from Eurocities, the European association of metropolitan cities." (Telecities web site)

Technical working groups are coordinated by a city selected each year among the Telecities members. Each working group collates and synthesizes case studies, reports on best practices, and any other relevant documents to draw lessons and analyze possible deployment in other sites. Their work is based on a series of workshops/seminars and demonstration visits to develop a consensus on applications responding to urban priorities, through the exchange of information and knowledge by a wide range of cities and experts in Europe. There are 102 members including 92 from the 13 member states of the EC. The current topics of interest are:

  • Employment and teleworking,
  • Economic development with an emphasis on SMEs,
  • Quality of life for disadvantaged people,
  • City information highway and public administration,
  • Education and training,
  • Environment,
  • City health care,
  • Teledemocracy,
  • Standards.

Veille Europeenne et Citoyenne des Autoroutes de l'information et du Multimedia (VECAM) [European Observatory of Information Highways and Multimedia]

VECAM is European in focus and their representative did not attempt an overview of community or civic networking potential in France.

Represented at ECN98 by:
Veronique Kleck
General Secretary, VECAM
18 Rue Etienne Dolet
93400 Saint Ouen, France
Tel. / fax: 01-40-11-64-10

VECAM is a joint initiative of the review Transversales Science/Culture and the Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation, following a declaration to the February 1995 G7 Summit entitled, "Multimedia: the paths to social control."

"Formidable industrial, financial and technological resources are now being used by commercial networks and providers and software houses to dominate the realm of information. Although these new technologies can be used to provide original means of exchange, the citizens that use these technologies are above seen as consumers... VECAM's conviction is that the challenge is above all political before being technological and that we must mobilize our energy and knowledge and fight so that the scientific and technological advances made are put to the service of human development, to the benefit of the greatest number and not a privileged few, or a new elite endowed with exorbitant wealth.

"There is a big diversity - more and more grassroots organizations and they don't disappear. But I don't like 'community networks.' I don't understand "community.' I like 'citizens' movements'. It is necessary to share resources and ideas. There is a need to form an alternative political movement because something is wrong. Governments are not competent to solve all these problems. " We need the movement to feel part of history, to have real power, to be part of the decision making process." (Veronique Kleck).

VECAM hosted the "European Conference on Democracy and Multimedia Networks," Parthenay, France, September 25-27, 1997, and has been an active supporter of the European Alliance for Community Networking.

Associazione Informatica & Reti Civiche, Lombardia (AIReC) [Association for Informatics and Civic Networking]. Note: this is an association of nine community networks in the Lombardy region. As yet there is no national association.

Status of community nets in Italy described by:
Fiorella De Cindio Prof. of computer science, Univ. degli Studi di Milano
Director, Civic Networking Laboratory
Manager, Rete Civica di Milana (Milano Community Network)
Milano Community Network - Tel: 39-2-55182133

Contact AIReC:
Vichi Cannada Bartoli

Regione Lombardia

Although "Reti Civiche" is a very popular name in Italy, a comprehensive and reliable picture of the status of civic networks doesn't exist. Fiorella De Cindio was familiar with the Milan and Lombardy situations and generalized from that. She felt that a definition of community and civic networking was essential because "they don't all do the same things." Especially, "they talk about 'participation' but they don't all practice it." Disregarding "city webs" that are basically tourist information, she saw three models in operation:

  • Top down public administration services, providing information to cities, with poor attention to interactivity (eg. Modena, Sienna).

  • Bottom up non-profit shared common spaces for enhancing communications and cooperation among various components of the local community (eg. Milan, Lombardy).

  • "In the middle" administration initiated online services where the citizens can submit questions and proposals and there are project discussion newsgroups (eg. Bologna).

She sees a need for a common vision that blends both ends of that spectrum to create a new kind of citizenship and democracy, a new kind of social contract. She quoted Rousseau, "Not buildings but citizens are essential to community." She called for the design of the "res publica" through the involvement of all the community where, "the community is the resource for itself, and the community network is the resource for the community. We need the creativity of citizens that are owners of sovereignty, not users and clients."

"We recognize a central role for community networks related to the right of the citizen to be on the Net." (Vichi Cannada Bartoli).

Community Area Networks Forum (CAN)

The text below comes mostly from the CAN web site.

The status of CN initiatives in Japan was described at ECN98 by:

Izumi Aizu Principal, Asia Network Research Sdn Bhd
No20B Taman Desa Business Centre c/o GLOCOM
Jalan Desa Jaya, Taman Desa,
58100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: 03-780-8738
Fax: 03-781-0590

A more immediate contact might be: Tooru Ono, Executive Director of [the Institution for a Hyper Network Society], and Secretary General of Japan's most advanced local community network [New Coara] in Oita Prefecture.

GLOCOM serves as Secretariat for CAN Forum. Takahiro Miyao, Professor of Economics at University of Tsukuba was appointed as its general manager.


CAN Forum's Inaugural Meeting Held at GLOCOM, May 29, 1997

Community Area Networks (CAN) are Information networks built from within, in basic community units: i.e., local residents, organizations, corporate groups, etc. CAN Forum is the organization that has been put together to promote and support the community-driven establishment of information networks, and serve as a platform for exchanges of local experience and information to that end.

Founding forum members believe computer networking in Japan has been a top-down process in which local community networks are considered subordinate to backbone central networks. CAN Forum seeks to change this centralized nature of Japanese computer networks into one that is more collaborative, de-centralized, and autonomous. With this end in view, it will encourage local governments, communities and residents to take initiative and actively improve network environments. CAN Forum hopes that such user-oriented efforts will contribute to narrowing the huge gap in information infrastructure between the U.S. and Japan.

CAN Forum consists of various nonprofit organizations, organizations for the promotion of regional informatization, third-sector organizations, government agencies, academics, volunteers, and corporations supportive of the CAN philosophy. Led by proponents of regional informatization, the Forum serves as a vehicle for the sharing of relevant information by various members involved in the community information revolution, and is striving to foster exchange and cooperation with a view to the promotion of tangible projects.

CAN Forum strives to foster the spread and utilization of leading-edge technologies well-adapted to the task of building the information infrastructure essential to community-based networking. In addition, it will help educate and work with individuals at the community level who are capable of readily harnessing that infrastructure for the dissemination and utilization of information. Small businesses will be expected to spearhead the drive to help their communities become networked. CAN Forum is planning various measures aimed at helping small businesses assume that role and grow and prosper through the use of electronic commerce and cybermoney.

Three prefectural governments, Oita, Kochi, and Okayama,are among the founding members of CAN Forum and are actively involved in promoting CANs. In Japan, Oita is recognized as having an advanced network community, thanks to the success of New Coara. Meanwhile, Okayama Prefecture is trying to connect each of its residents to the Internet under its Okayama Information Super Highway project. In addition, [Suwa City's Smart Lake Project] in Nagano Prefecture is also a participant of the Forum. These local communities have high expectations for CAN Forum. Koichi Kuratani, who represented Suwa's Smart Lake Project, said that CAN Forum can provide a collaborative platform in an environment free of intervention from the central government.

Four ministries from the Japanese central government are participating in CAN Forum as observers: the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, Ministry of Construction, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

Basic Principle:
In an information-intensive society, information and communications infrastructure will be the most important foundation for the societal activities of citizens at large. Most of the information traveling through that infrastructure will be generated and shared at the community level.

Specific Principles:
(a) The construction of CANs must be driven by the goal of providing full access to all citizens in the community.

(b) Companies, local government offices, schools, hospitals, shopping centers, apartment complexes, and other potential network nodes should first be equipped with LANs, and then interconnected through those LANs.

(c) LANs and CANs must have at least as much bandwidth as public trunk lines, if not more.

(d) The overwhelming share of all information flowing through CANs will be generated by consumer and business activities in each community. That information will be generated not only by citizens, but also by products and places.

(e) It is only natural that CANs vary community by community in terms of the technologies they utilize, the tangible forms they take, and the administrative structures that run them.

(f) Each community will find it imperative to engage in active exchanges of information with its peers, and strive to design and implement CAN models that are ideally suited to its needs, while fully bearing in mind that most communities face their own unique set of circumstances.

(1) The sponsorship of general conferences, symposiums and various study groups, and the dissemination of their findings, related to:

(i) Policy recommendations;
(ii) The promotion of community information network; infrastructure, education programs, and human resources development
(iii) Intercommunity cooperation;
(iv) Cultivation of opportunities for new projects;
(v) Exchanges with universities and research institutions in Japan and abroad.

(2) International exchange (study missions abroad, invitations of foreign speakers).

(3) Research on CAN-oriented information and communications infrastructure, experimentation, and network installation work, including:

(i) Web content broadcasting via satellite transmissions
(ii) Coaxial-cable modems
(iii) Dialup phone-line XDSL
(iv) Fiber-optic systems (e.g., NTT's pi system)
(v) Assorted wireless duplex transmission technologies, (LMDS, LEO, MEO, broadband cellular telephony, etc.)
(vi) NTT's ATM Megalink Service and other small-scale, ATM-based LANs/WANs

(4) Research groups, information sharing, joint pilot projects, and the joint construction of systems for the following CAN applications

(i) Electronic commerce (electronic transactions, settlements, certifications, etc.)
(ii) Teleconferencing systems and other communications systems
(iii) Community Intranets

(5) The collection of relevant information from sources worldwide.

De Digitale Stad (DDS) [Digital City Foundation]

DDS is a place for cultural and social development for individuals. It "plays a part in securing the Internet as a public domain." It "strives for the "common weal in virtual space, a neutral environment that is not dominated by government or business monopolies and Internet users as active participants who use the medium as a means for individual emancipation."

DCF has not received any subsidies since 1995. Free services to the community are financed by providing professional services to a variety of clients nationwide. In 1998, there are 25 paid staff and use community of 80,000 citizens.

Represented at ECN98 by:
Lisabeth van der Kar Project Manager, Finance and General Management Digital City Foundation Prins Hendrikkade 193-A 1011 TD Amsterdam, Netherlands Tel: 31-20-6257493 Fax: 31-20-6382817
WHEN ESTABLISHED: January 14 1994

Projects that activate or motivate vulnerable groups in society to use the Internet, including: elderly, immigrants, women, unemployed people, people with handicaps, drug addicts, and small business.

"Idealistic / not for profit policy issues of DDS"
       - Free service for the public domain
       - Providing a context for social and virtual organization
       - Vulnerable groups and social division ("To make the gap smaller and to prevent social division")
       - Content - diversity and pluralism
       - Policy issues and civil rights on the electronic highway
       - Democracy and participation

Access is no longer a problem. But development of tools and technical possibilities on the net are growing rapidly. Not all of these possibilities will become automatically available to the public. Advanced Internet tools ("the right trends for access to free media space") should be available for all groups in society. At present tools are hardly supplied in efficient combinations and remain islands of facilities that barely have a strengthening influence on each other. DDS encourages hybrid constructions and coherence between different media. They are developing new tools that:

  • use a backpack into which you put "tools," including your profile, "and then you surf the web but your tools are with you."
  • make a new group or new community work - so that one person can do it.
  • let you read your mail from anywhere - webmail
  • create contexts that foster free expression (new communications tools)
  • allow you to easily organize public discussion by yourself


Friends and Partners Russia:
Russia Civic Networking Program (RCNP)

Goals of FP's programs:

  • To foster and support global communities of active exchange and communications which encourages multicultural understanding across barriers of all types.
  • To support local grass-roots initiatives of renewal, development and identity building through community networking

Supported by: Ford Foundation, US State Department, NATO, the International Science Foundation (Open Society Institute), Sun Microsystems, Radio Free Europe, the Russian Education and Learning Network, and the Pushchino Biological Center.

Represented at ECN98 by:
Natalia A. Bulashova
Director, Russian Office, Friends and Partners Russia
Prospekt Nauka 5
Pushchino, Moscow Region, Russia 142292
Tel: 0967-73-06-11
Fax: 095-923-36-02

Contact US Office:
Greg Cole
Center for International Networking Initiatives
University of Tennessee
2000 Lake Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee, 37996
Tel: 423-974-7277
Fax: 423-974-8022

Friends and Partners, January 19,1994.
RCNP, 1996.


CIVNET-Russia is devoted to promotion and active development of civic networking within Russian communities. This project resides within the broader Friends and Partners effort, a grassroots project jointly developed by friends in the US and Russia to actively explore how the Internet can be used to help foster new exchange and understanding between different countries and cultures. The main goal of CIVNET is to start an exchange among the many groups and individuals who have an interest in community networking in Russia.

The first phase of CIVNET-Russia began on April 1, 1997, funded on a five month research and development grant by the Ford Foundation. The objectives of the first phase included:

  • research historical precedents for community networking in Russia - looking to better understand the cultural roots and traditions on which to build new civic networks using modern information and communications technologies;

  • educate interested groups and individuals about the full potential of civic networks and begin to develop a dialogue among a community interested in civic networking in Russia;

  • identify communities in which interest and enthusiasm for civic networking can lead to participation in the next stage (a two year implementation stage) of this project;

  • build the technical tools and software infrastructure to support construction of at least four civic network model sites for the implementation stage.

The primary goal of phase two of the Russian Civic Networking Program (RCNP) is to cooperatively develop three to four (3-4) model civic network sites within Russia and to broadly disseminate the results and the findings of these initiatives. The RCNP represents a close partnership between community networking activists in Russia and the U.S. It is expected that success of these projects and a good information base describing the progress of their development will result in momentum for a broader civic networking movement within Russia and improved civic networks for participants in U.S. communities.

The support of the Ford Foundation made possible a competitive application in which three Russian communities have been chosen and are being provided with equipment, travel funding for an initial planning/strategy conference in the US, and funding for basic operating and salary expenses. The recipients of the grant are the Samara Civic Network, the Chelyabinsk Civic Network and the Sergiev-Posad Civic Network. The deadline for submission of proposals was Monday, September 15, 1997, with a decision reached in December, 1997.

The overall quality of the proposals was excellent, far surpassing anything that Friends and Partners had anticipated. The decision to choose these three proposals was difficult. They received first-rate proposals from across Russia and would like to continue working with those who are interested in developing community networking by assisting in any way they are able with the implementation and continued fund raising.

UK Communities Online (UKCO)

For UK Communities Online, the key phrase governing their activities is "social inclusion." UKCO is "making the case for a locally focused information society," harnessing information and communication technology "for the benefit of all." It is running a three-year campaign to enable everyone in the UK to be able to join their own local online community that would include:

  • a well organized "gateway website for each "locality"
  • electronic public space for local discussion
  • systems that make it easy to do business locally
  • support for local businesses, voluntary organizations and special interest groups to use the technology effectively
  • training in use for individuals

Michael Mulquin
UK Communities Online
PO Box 18714, London, England, E6 5GN

Initial planning meeting, BT Centre, October 1995 Inaugural meeting and second conference, Sheffield, July 7-8, 1997.


"The challenge is to address the problems of today, a whole range of social and economic objectives; unemployment, social alienation, disparities, balancing interests of the public and the private and the corporate and voluntary sectors. We need new solutions because the old ways of responding don't work. We need a plurality of responses. Diversity is our strength. Then how we respond will be different, creative, flexible. We can then challenge with ideas, because we've mapped where they are. Identifying common values and using them to link appropriate partners is more important than defining community or community networking. But then the mapping of ideas and linkages needs to be used to "get on the map," to tell stories that attract or engage people's attention." (Claire Shearman,


But "businesses are afraid of governments forcing universal access in the framework of social inclusion questions." Samantha Hellawell, IBM-UK.

       - demonstration events
       - website, including an interactive map of community net projects in UK
       - online forums
       - email newsletter; join at with the message:
               subscribe co-announce
       - web space for experimental online system initiatives
       - policy work on legislation and funding for support of this growing movement
       - the first annual conference: Putting Local Communities Online,
               York, 18 - 20 September 1998.

Association for Community Networking (AFCN)

AFCN is a national non-profit membership organization dedicated to improving the visibility, viability, and vitality of Community Networking. AFCN links and serves the more than one hundred and fifty community networks around the USA. AFCN also builds public awareness, identifies best practices, encourages research, and develops products and services. AFCN's role is to help communities make use of the great technical advances available to them, in both rural and urban settings.

They define community networks as place-based electronic public spaces where community development occurs. "Social exclusion is not a concept in the United States." (Steve Clift).

Start-up activities were supported by Apple Computer, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the University of Michigan, the Morino Institute, and a group of 50 founding contributors.

AFCN is incorporated in the state of Colorado, and is administered by a virtual Board of community networking professionals: Amy Borgstrom, Appalachian Center for Economic Networks; Steve Cisler, formerly of Apple Computer; Richard Civille, Center for Civic Networking; Joan Durrance, University of Michigan School of Information; Madeline Gonzalez, Boulder Community Network; and Steve Snow, Charlotte's Web in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Represented at ECN98 by:
Amy Borgstrom, AFCN President
Exec. Director, Appalachian Center for Economic Networks
94 Columbus Road, Athens, Ohio, 45701
Tel: 614-592-3854
Fax: 614-593-5451

Alternate contact:
Madeline Gonzalez, Executive Director of AFCN Consultant & Co-founder of Boulder Community Network,
Telluride InfoZone, Southern Ute Tribe & Ignacio Community Network
Tel: 970-728-5170
Fax: 970-728-3102

March 1998. "The real genesis of AFCN was the collapse of NPTN." Amy Borgstrom. First annual general meeting, July 98, San Jose, California.


The chief internal challenge is sustainability, the chief external challenge is competition. "The world wide web is the death of community networks. We need to find a market niche that the big organizations are not doing." "There are contradictions community nets are flourishing, but haven't grown in numbers since 1994, at least not in comparison to growth of Internet use. They need to grow, to be more than marginal. They haven't grown because we haven't developed a business model that is more like a social enterprise and less like a charity." (Amy Borgstrom). They have a vulnerable and fragile activist organization structure, non-profit, with time stressed committees. "There is no public perception of our work and its value and impact."

AFCN provides members with

  • An electronic mailing list for members to share experiences and learn from one another.
  • A bi-monthly newsletter examining issues and providing community networking tips and insights.
  • A growing, resource-rich World Wide Web site at
  • Opportunities for face-to-face interaction, learning, and policy development.

Back to ECN98 report
Appendix B