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Foundation for the Future Research

Evaluating the "Connecting Communities" Program in BC

Completed 2009

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In 2005 the Provincial government committed to providing broadband access to all communities in B.C. that had a public school, library or health care facility. By December 2006 the project was substantially complete, with 356 of the 366 identified communities connected. Government wants to determine the impact of its investment and efforts. During implementation, anecdotal evidence suggested that some communities were better positioned to take advantage of connectivity than were others. The factors appeared to relate to community leadership, social and cultural readiness and economics. The evidence suggested that government look beyond technology if it is to achieve its vision of bridging the digital divide.

Much anecdotal evidence exists regarding the impacts of ICTs on communities in various parts of the world and in B.C. Virtually no quantitative evidence exists and none specific to B.C.


Given that many communities in B.C. are becoming connected for the first time, B.C. has the opportunity to: Document the early impacts of ICTs, particularly on rural and remote communities as a follow-up to recent investments; Identify and understand barriers to ICT use to inform Provincial policy decisions moving forward; and Lay the foundation for future research on the impacts of technology on society.


To achieve the three goals of documenting the early impacts of ICTs, identifying and understanding the barriers to use of ICTs and laying the foundations for future research in the area, the researchers seek to understand the current status of impacts in connected communities, the nature of the impacts (both positive and negative), the barriers to using connectivity for community development (however ‘development’ is defined) and hope to return with recommendations for both addressing the existing barriers and for further research.

1. Current Status

The proposed research will seek to develop a methodology for determining the baseline status of the impact of ICTs on rural and remote communities and for predicting/anticipating what the medium- and long-term impacts might be.

2. Impact on Communities

The research will explore the impact of ICTs on communities and propose a methodology for determining impacts (educational, cultural, social, economic, etc.) It will look for lessons learned based on the immediate evidence and a methodology for determining which impacts are short-, medium-, and long-term and methodology around how the impacts will be tracked and how long it will take to achieve.

3. Barriers to using Connectivity for Community Development

This research will provide the basis for a methodology for determining the barriers (e.g., cultural, social, educational, economic).

4. Challenges/Recommendations

This research will provide input to a policy process based on evidence-based research and will result in a report describing future directions for this type of research.