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Hundreds flocking to Digital Hub

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In just four months Wairoa’s Digital Hub has upskilled and provided technology access to around 1,300 people.

Based in the Wairoa Library, the Digital Hub is fast becoming a public go to for people wanting to access technology and build their digital confidence.

The aim of the hub is to provide another local component to improve the district’s connectivity and digital capability.

The new hub has been built in the library in partnership with the Wairoa District Council and is designed to be used by local residents and businesses.  Already 13 different courses are offered to teach and enable Wairoa people to get the most out of their new facility.

The hub was made possible through funding from the Provincial Development Unit with the facility featuring 13 computers. At the moment 11 computers are based upstairs and two downstairs but the configurations can be changed based on demand.

Cameron Cook, who fronts the hub, is available to help users, whether they are based upstairs or downstairs, and said there is a diverse range of users all wanting to develop different technology aspects and skills.

“We have older people who want to learn the basics and younger students who are developing coding and animation creation skills. Plus, there are people who just want to sit in front of a screen and print a few documents.”

Cameron is responsible for running the courses and is also available to assist with any technology advice people might need.

“Our aim is improving connectivity. A lot of people have their own devices but are not confident to use them. We try to help them overcome that barrier to feel more comfortable using their device.”

Internet access and cost is also a barrier. The hub taps into the Wairoa District’s Council’s free wifi and there is a further option available for people to stay connected with a subsidised broadband plan.

Cameron says already around 60 people have taken up the pre-paid internet plan which involves top ups at the reduced price of $5 for 30gb instead of being locked into the cost of a monthly plan.

“Technology is growing at a rapid pace and the Digital Hub is a base for people to be able to keep up no matter whether it is a smartphone, tablet or computer.

“We are providing a place for people to learn so they can interface with the world.”

The closure of Wairoa’s banks has seen a steady stream of older people turning to the Digital Hub for advice.

While Cameron says he can’t access banking platforms for security reasons he is happy to show people what they need to do from a generic perspective.

Mayor Craig Little is thrilled with the success of the hub. “There has always been a real appetite for better digital access in Wairoa and this initiative will complement a number of other digitally based projects in the district.

“Through the hub we are breaking down barriers and making digital technology available to everyone and most importantly at no additional cost. This is a great example of how external funding can be transformative to help us achieve so much and this is why it is important that Central Government continues to focus on rural areas.”

 

12 May 2021

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