Learning Centre – getting online

Janette Mackie from the Citizensonline  Get I T Together programme has been out to Westray again, and had some really great sessions with older members of the community.   Watch out for request for I-pads as Christmas presents this year – there will be an I-pad beginners course starting at the back end of October, as well as a beginners course for laptops or PCs.  Both of these will be very informal and you will learn what you want to know, at your own pace.  There is still time to sign up.  Contact Corinne at the trust office if you are interested, or watch out for notices.

We are still waiting for the 6 new computers  to be installed at the Learning Centre.  What is taking time is that we have to wait for OIC, UHI, and Orkney College to all coordinate on this, as the big news is that there will be wifi installed there – that means that folk will also be able to use their own laptops.

Also, if you live in social housing (OIC, or OHAL) and don’t have internet but want it,  let either Corinne or Janette (07788 395859) know, as there may be some assistance available.

Broadband development

To make sure that Westray remains eligible for community broadband project funding, Corinne will be starting to gather feedback on current broadband speeds.  If you haven’t already been contacted, you can get a survey form from the trust office or fill in the online survey here.



Spring Online

Janette Mackie at Kalisgarth

Janette Mackie at KalisgarthJanette Mackie, the Get IT together coordinator for Orkney (a citizensonline project) is keen to involve Westray folk in a very informal learning to help people get the most out of the internet.  A number of opportunities have been planned for people to talk to her, and pick up new skills.  Kalisgarth residents had the chance to try using ipads to view photos, and secondary school students were keen to learn more about projects such as “Internet Rangers”.

More information about the BT sponsorship of this project can be found in this link

Next Generation Internet Access

Currently only around 40% of Westray houses are able to be offered a 2 mbs broadband service (considered a baseline for todays internet needs), with many areas of Westray where speeds are unacceptably slow, and frequent drop-outs of service even in “good” areas.

With the push from the UK and Scottish Governments to implement a new superfast Internet highway that utilises the Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband technology we want to make sure Westray has the best opportunities for getting the same level of service as everywhere else, which in our remote community means we have to take some initiative ourselves.

Its exciting to see other projects where communities have installed their own fibreoptic cable, or are running their own telecoms companies, and doing it all for the same kind of ongoing cost as traditional service providers.

Westray has got together with two other Isles development trusts to investigate what really is possible here. An initial feasibility study is now underway (mid October 2012) to see if fibreoptic cable laying really is an option, whether working in partnership with other isles will give an economy of scale to make it financially viable, and whether community ownership or management of any part of internet services would be appropriate. With the results of the study to hand we will be in a good position to put in a bid to the new £5 million Community Broadband Fund to make it all happen, as well as being able to share what we learn with other isles.