Logging on for a future with internet access for everybody
FOR many of us these days it might be hard to imagine the world without the web, but tens of thousands of people have no internet access.
The reasons to go online are immeasurable: from booking holidays to catching up with your favourite TV programme.
Everyday transactions can be made so much easier, and cheaper, online: renewing your car tax; getting an insurance quote; online food shopping; applying for benefits.
However, it is estimated that 45,000 people in Swansea are without internet access. A new scheme is hoping to change this.
Swansea Council and its partners Age Cymru Swansea Bay and Family Housing Association Wales are today launching a new project — Get Swansea Online — to help some of those people missing out on access to information, learning, support, services, job vacancies and shopping deals.
Christine Richards, deputy leader of Swansea Council, said: "Access to the internet and the skills needed to use it are more important than ever before.
"These days everything from job adverts to benefits applications, from shopping to reporting potholes are online so it is essential everyone should have the opportunity.
"Knowing how to get online and use technology will help people find jobs, stay in touch with family and friends, save money and even get more out of their hobbies."
The campaign will be aimed at people who aren't already online and people who can tend to be "digitally excluded" such as the elderly, social housing tenants and those not in employment.
It will provide free training, backed by Communities 2.0, the Welsh Government's digital inclusion initiative and funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
Steve Robinson, Communities 2.0 broker for Swansea said: "Get Swansea Online will be providing free computer sessions to people who want get online, learn how to use the web and realise its benefits.
"We want to support as many people as possible to get online and hopefully go on to use the technology to find information, employment, new skills, save money and discover new hobbies." The move has been welcomed by a member of a Swansea University project.
Sian Jones, of Technocamps, which is based at the department of computer science, said: "The internet has such a positive impact on society as it opens up a wealth of opportunities for people to learn, network, store data and of course shop.
"It is a hub of information that has become part of our everyday lives, with online communication, social networking, discussion forums and blogs proving to be a popular platform for expression, that engages people across the world. Search engines also provide information on virtually anything that springs to mind, just through a click of a button.
"Libraries provide free access to the internet for everyone and young people across Wales are embracing technology in school and at home, and are also learning about computer science through the Technocamps project based at Swansea University. Businesses are also accessing a range of training through Software Alliance Wales, also based at the university, from digital marketing to how to program their own smart phone application."