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On the buses, 2001-style

Mobile libraries? We want mobile cybercafes

The old mobile library is now a rare sight, but with the need to put IT into everyone's hands it might not be long before double decker buses come rumbling down your street again. But this time they'll be filled with PCs, not books.

Nacro's Net Navigator project will initially be piloted in Hastings, aimed at those who wish to develop and improve their IT skills but do not have the means to do so.

Sponsored primarily by Nacro, the crime reduction charity, with support from Ericsson, BT and the Department for Education the scheme, if successful, will be seen in other parts of the country by the end of the year.

"We hope to work with the government to achieve its aim of an IT-friendly Britain by 2005," said a BT spokesperson. "Without access to computers people can't develop their skills."

Using satellite-based communications equipment the bus can be taken to areas where IT training is most needed and most lacking.

"The government has recognised that people without information and communication technology skills are increasingly excluded, not just from jobs, but from society more widely," said Helen Edwards, Nacro's chief executive.

The scheme will be targeted at offenders and their families and people with no formal qualifications or poor basic computer skills.

"We hope this project will help bridge the gap between the computer haves and have-nots," said Nacro's Edwards.

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