As families soak up the last weeks of summer enjoying vacations together, their thoughts are gradually turning toward school preparations. Even during getaways in hotels, students may need to complete various online forms and sign up for classes. Public access computers allow travelers to keep their bags light, with the knowledge that they can connect to the Internet at their destination as well as in cyber cafes.
Others returning to college campuses or relying on computers in public libraries also depend on free Wi-Fi to complete various projects. As an integral part of their official or self-propelled educational program, the Internet provides a valuable–and increasingly indispensable–tool for gathering knowledge and understanding the larger world.
Online Informational Resource and Connections
In 2013, the “Global Impact Study” revealed why public access to the Internet matters across the world. The Technology & Social Change Group at the University of Washington Information School conducted this 5-year, eight-country study. The survey included 5,000 computer users at libraries, telecenters and cyber cafés and 2,000 nonusers at home to learn about patterns of public access use.
In addition, the researchers questioned 1,250 operators of public access venues and conducted seven in-depth case studies. The survey was conducted in eight low- and middle-income countries on three continents. The findings indicated that community access to computer and Internet technology is an essential resource, connecting people to the information and skills required in our digital world.
Those who particularly benefited from public access computers included many people in low- and middle-income countries including:
- Rural residents
- Others who are often marginalized
Specifically, access to online information allowed them to pursue goals in the following areas:
Researchers’ Findings and Report Recommendations
The researchers’ findings include:
- Public access venues were the only source of the Internet for one-third of users surveyed, providing the first-ever computer contact for more than half of those users — a number that rose among lower socioeconomic groups and female populations.
- More than half said their use of computers would decrease if public access venues were no longer available, and about half cited a lack of computer access as their main reason for using public venues.
- Forty percent of users surveyed said public access venues had been crucial to their development of computer skills, and half said the same of learning Internet skills.
The study’s final report also makes recommendations for government and donor organizations as well as libraries and telecenter practitioners. Some of their suggestions include:
- Support the wide availability of public Internet access venues and incorporate them into national initiatives involving digital resources and services for health, education, governance and other areas
- Use existing infrastructure such as libraries when considering investments in public Internet access.
- Value the role of social networking and communications, which have become critical venues for accessing important resources.
Wired and Wireless Network Leader Committed to Public Access Internet
As a trusted leader providing wired and wireless network services in many public spaces, Safety NetAccess serves Wi-Fi centric companies including:
- Health care facilities
- Assisted living centers
- Quick-serve restaurants and cafes
Our solutions range from simple hotspots with a portal to very complex campus-wide wireless networks that incorporate many buildings and multiple ISPs. We also offer more complex portals that include choices for payments, speeds and pass codes. To provide public access Internet at your facility, contact Safety NetAccess, with a team of proven industry experts.