Project Activities of the Chelyabinsk Civic Network

Executors of the Project:

  • Chelyabinsk Scientific Center *

  • Southern Ural State University *

  • Ural Regional Center of FREEnet *

  • Director of the Project: Dmitry Latukin

    Description of the Project

    The Chelyabinsk Civic Network is an extension of the "civil" base of Internet in Chelyabinsk and Chelyabinskaya oblast is the main purpose of the following project. It is going to be implemented by launching a specialized network that will unite individuals as well as different corporate and public organizations. The network will assist in attracting a greater number of various organizations and individuals into creation of common information space and providing an access of all sections of the population to network services.

    The project is designed to promote a broad dialog among various organizations and individuals in this district of the Moscow Region. Using the telecommunication network sponsored by the Russian Civic Network and modern technologies, the project aims at demonstrating the way social organizations can help stimulate people for the improvement of their lives and of their community, and to serve the needs of disadvantaged citizens - refugees and newly arrived re-settlers from CIS countries, demobilized military, unemployed and others - through access to electronic information services, specific training and various opportunities.

    Because the Chelyabinsk Civic Network (CCN) is rooted in public networking activities of over five years duration, they have an already well established technical base for their efforts. The CCN project has enabled them to enhance this infrastructure with new equipment, an increased number of phone lines, and additional public access sites. But the accomplishments of CCN have been more focused on development of information services, on training, increasing number of users of local network, and developing greater public awareness of the civic network.

    Examples of their accomplishments over the first 7 months of this project (June December) include hosting over 22 seminars training over 250 individuals on topics related to Internet use and Internet publishing; developing the primary CCN web server with information about the CCN project, public access locations, training schedules, directories of local resources and links to similar projects; maintaining the "Internet for everyone" public access center which is open 8 hours each day and providing access, email and web publishing services to students, scholars, teachers, journalists, scientists, NGO staffs, etc.; providing special focus on increasing number of NGO organizations on-line; and publishing two electronic journals concerned with important issues of local community life (one on local legal/government issues; the other on local cultural news and issues).

    Project organizers have worked diligently to improve local communications infrastructure establishing peering agreements with local Internet service providers (providing for better local network infrastructure), increasing network capacity from Chelyabinsk (to Moscow and the rest of the world), improving local equipment (both hardware and software), providing additional phone lines for dial-up access, adding wireless Internet connectivity to a local pedagogical university, and dramatically improving local public access infrastructure.

    Description of the Grand Opening Ceremony

    The grand opening ceremony of the Chelyabinsk Civic Network (CCN) was held in the "Internet for Everyone" center at Southern Ural State University (SUSU) on March 17, 1999. The 52 participants included Greg Cole (F&P), Chris Kedzie (Ford Foundation), Sergey Agapov (Samara Civic Network), Tanya Stepanova (F&P), staff of regional center of FREEnet (The network For Research, Education and Engineering), reporters and special guests such as "Independent Forum of Women", "Youth Social Movement", Frieburg-Chelyabinsk Society, local government, scientific and educational institutions in Snezhinsk, Miass and Chelyabinsk, libraries and so forth.

    After greetings of SUSU chancellor German Vyatkin there were speeches of Oleg Loginovsky, head of Information Department of Administration of Chelyabinsk oblast, Chris Kedzie, Dmitry Latukhin, Sergey Agapov and Greg Cole. All of them described aspects of the RCNP and, in particular, CCN project, their civic and democratic purposes, first results and, to a certain extent, technical details.

    The event was widely presented in the city newspapers as well as TV and radio programs. Two main local newspapers "Evening Chelyabinsk" and "Chelyabinsk Worker" published reports on their first pages on March 18 and weekly "Business Ural" - on March 26. Regional TV and East Express channels (the most popular in the city) made reports on their evening news programs on that day. Regional radio station reported about the ceremony twice - on March 18 and 22. Ural Press and Southern Ural Information Service agencies prepared their own short news. The CCN projector director, Dmitry Latukhin, was interviewed by the Algo Press agency in Moscow.

    The ceremony achieved its main goal of generating wide and sincere interest in the project, attracting lots of interested local citizens, as well as local media which subsequently shared news of the project. The event got good resonance in the University and among non-commercial and non-governmental organizations. The ceremony has generated a lot of interest, phone calls, and requests from new users who wish to publishing using CCN infrastructure.

    Planned activities for the next quarter of the project include creating a better organizational structure for governance of the project; obtaining better involvement of local government and other local organizations in support of the CCN; increasing work with volunteers; developing more formal policy for user services and support; improving relationship with local commercial ISPs; and, very importantly, improving information content of the civic networking server.

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    More information about Chelyabinsk can be found at Russian Communities on the Net page.

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