The answer to the question above is basically everybody. But even if you do not use the web, people who care about you certainly do. They might be distant family wanting to Skype or Whatsapp you, government, service providers or advertisers trying to sell you something. On a very basic level, having an email address is almost more relevant today (and more practical) than having a postal address. And if you’re moving around a lot and keep losing your bits and pieces then a cloud based storage account on Google or Amazon might be a good place to scan and store your ID documents, proof of address, education certificates, and of course your latest CV.
VPUU has had the opportunity to design and build two public libraries in Cape Town over the last 5 years. Now that Cape Town’s public wifi network, SmartCape, has kicked in we can start to estimate usage of the facilities. The City of Cape Town are themselves making great use of the internet to provide public information to their constituency. On their Open Data Portal we found the location of all their libraries and in another dataset the user statistics for SmartCape services at all those libraries for August 2017. Mapping software (QGIS) allows us to join the datasets to get a sense of how people across Cape Town are making use of this free resource.
The blue circles in this map are bigger at the libraries where there are more users. The table shows the number of users at the busiest 6 libraries. Besides Cape Town Central library the new Kuyasa library that VPUU built next to Kuyasa Station (it is actually in Makhaza) is by far the busiest. Harare Library (also in Khayelitsha) is a close fourth.
VPUU has a public wifi in Harare Square and another in Lotus Park, Gugulethu. Both of these setups average 300 unique users per week placing them alongside the top 15% of SmartCape facilities. The VPUU networks are mainly to support the Community Registers, Tap & Toilet monitoring teams and Neighbourhood Watch services in those communities; but uptake by the broader community is growing fast.
Access to smartphones and connected desktops remains scarce in many areas. Estimates for VPUU Safe Node Areas vary from 1:10,000 to 1:50,000. This number is just waiting to fall, putting in a Computer Lab with 5 or 10 desktops can significantly change the level of opportunity.
Get Smart! You can only use SmartCape Internet Service if you are a registered library member. Each registered user gets free Internet access for up to 45 minutes per day using a fixed computer in a library, or use 100MB of data per day using Wi-Fi. Casual (unregistered) users can use 50MB of data per day.