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Regeneration and ICT

Reaching the parts other policies and activities fail to reach

How can the new information and communication technologies (ICT) help to promote the regeneration of depressed and disadvantaged areas?

This article outlines why ICT is important for regeneration, the different ways in which it is being used to support regeneration objectives, and offers advice on how to move forward in this field.

Why ICT?

To a large extent ICT is important not in itself, but because of the value it can add to regeneration activities. Essentially, it's not about technologies, but about being innovative in:

  • opening up opportunities for socially excluded groups

  • opening up new avenues of communication

  • locating regeneration professionals and resources at the "front line"

  • improving service delivery from public agencies

  • supporting existing regeneration objectives and programmes in new ways.

In what specific ways can ICT help?

As with effective use of ICT in other fields, many of the benefits come from overcoming the limitations of distance.  For example, one constraint on people in disadvantaged communities may be mobility problems - they may not be able to afford transport, or may be disabled, or caring responsibilities may constrain their ability to travel several miles for training or job seeking. ICT can bring advice, opportunities or even work into local communities.

But in these situations, the effect can be more than just bringing opportunities physically closer. New local facilities and support can change attitudes, from being discouraged and disaffected to being positive about the future.

The main areas where ICT may add significant value to regeneration projects are:

The following sections outline approaches to each of these areas, and a final page outlines some conclusions and suggestions for how to move forward.

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Effective use of ICT should be integral to regeneration projects, according to Flexibility Editor Andy Lake.

Andy has just completed a short tour with the Planning Exchange, spreading awareness of best practice in using ICT for regeneration. Here he summarises the key issues and opportunities.

The Planning Exchange is a not-for-profit company which shares information and best practice in the public sector, particularly with regard to development and regeneration issues. They also run Regen.Net, the information network for regeneration partnerships.

The Planning Exchange on behalf of the DTLR has produced a Good Practice Guide on using ICT to achieve regeneration objectives.

You can find the guide online on the DTLR Regeneration pages.

 

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