FREE wi-fi is being installed in 20 community buildings in Leeds as part of the city council’s efforts to tackle digital exclusion.
The council has already installed free wi-fi in most council buildings, it said, and this scheme will extend coverage into non-council community buildings. There will be a focus on areas of the city where digital access and free public connectivity is currently limited.
Alongside this, the council said it also intends to double its tablet lending scheme, to help more people develop their digital skills and benefit from being online. It claims the scheme is already the biggest of its type operating in the country.
The council has also launched a grants programme to help small organisations remove the barriers to digital inclusion for their staff and customers. The grants could be used to pay for connectivity, access to suitable equipment, online marketing and communications techniques or recruitment and training of staff or volunteers.
“Digital inclusion, support and learning can make a significant difference to help tackle poverty, reduce inequalities and is very much in line with the council’s vision of a compassionate city with a strong economy,” said Councillor James Lewis, the city council’s executive member for resources and sustainability.
“Freely accessible wi-fi has proved to be incredibly popular in council buildings, so we are excited to be able to offer it to even more people across the city and especially in areas where currently such free access and support is limited.”
The investment is part of the council’s commitment to supporting the 100% Digital Leeds movement which aims to ensure that everyone in the city can benefit from being online. It aims to address the three main barriers to digital inclusion; lack of online skills or confidence, cost of equipment and broadband access, and lack of interest and motivation.