Network gives neighbors variety of access
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Sep 03, 2001
With the NeighborLink Network, Rochester residents can tap into a wide range
of technology options.
At 10 neighborhood sites, city-sponsored computer workstations offer
Internet access and software programs, including Microsoft Corp.'s Word,
PowerPoint, Excel, Access and FrontPage, as well as mapping tools. They
also provide Web links to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
and Census Bureau data and statistics, and information about government
departments, the city's comprehensive "Rochester 2010: The Renaissance"
initiative and how to get involved in the grass-roots planning effort called
Neighbors Building Neighborhoods (NBN).
The NeighborLink Network also features an online chat function, which
offers a discussion forum for the NBN sector groups. Periodically, the city
posts questions or surveys on the network to solicit opinions and perspectives
from designated users. The questions are geared toward improving NBN, according
to Vickie Bell, director of the Bureau of Neighborhood Initiatives.
Planned and developed in a year, the NeighborLink Network cost about
$100,000, which was covered by federal funding and included equipping nine
libraries and one community learning center with computer workstations and
printers. Each workstation comes with a step-by-step guide to using the
City officials are taking pains to ensure that people have reasons to
keep coming back to the library-based workstations. Bell said the network
is becoming an electronic hub for people to find out about other community
resources and news; for example, Rochester Gas and Electric officials are
planning to post information about capital improvement projects through
Eventually, the city plans to provide school principals with a direct
connection to Neighbor.Link. Marjorie Lefler, the Rochester City School
District's liaison to NBN, said school officials eventually plan to use
the system to post summer reading lists and homework assignments and to
schedule parent/teacher conferences, recruit volunteers and announce school
In communities with a large Hispanic population, Bell said the city
would try to offer NBN materials in Spanish.