More about Community Information Systems

What is a community information system?

A community information system is a computer-based information services designed to meeting the current information needs of people and public agencies and to prepare the community for full participation in rapidly changing communication environments. As a civic service, access is free and open to everyone in the community for their personal, non-commercial use.

Available material can include local, state, and federal government documents and services, business and consumer information, medical and legal information, access to libraries' collections and services, public school and higher education curriculum material, calendars, and course listings, directories of social services. Each community can provide information services tailored to reflect the unique needs of its citizens.

Where are some examples?

COIN, Columbia Online Information Network, is one of the largest in the state. Laclede Access, located near Lebanon, and ORION in Springfield are other examples of this sort of service.

Why community information systems?

EVERYONE not only needs but has a right to information. The world economy is rapidly becoming an information-based economy, and all citizens, regardless of social, economic, or educational status, must be able to participate successfully in this information age. It is estimated that 90% of the world's information will be available electronically by the year 2000 and communities must be prepared to compete and prosper in this environment. Community Information Systems are one way to provide online access to a community.

Where is this information?

Electronic information lives on computers and computers are literally everywhere. A community information system coordinates and organizes public access to computer-based information for all citizens. Information can come from Australia, Europe, Africa, Maine, California or your neighbor.

How do people and electronic information come together?

It takes a computer to talk to another computer. Consequently, people need a computer of terminal with a modem to link to this service. Home , office, public library, school, public buildings, malls -- any time and any place people and computers come together -- access is possible. This puts the power in each individual's hands to decide what and how much information is needed.

When do people need information?

A question can arise at any time and people's schedules are irregular and busy. Computers don't sleep, so information is available any time it's convenient.

Who might use a community information system?

Opportunities abound for children and adults to expand their awareness, develop friendships, and trade ideas with others in their city, their state, their country and on their planet. Students and teachers can communicate with others around the world and can access resources not available locally. Local government can provide information to keep the community informed. Social Service agencies can provide timely information to their constituents.

What can you do to get started?

Identify community leaders and organizations that would be interested in coming together to provide a wide variety of essential resources to the people they all serve.