Boulder Community Network
BCN is the non-profit sector ambassador to the world of information technology and the Internet. In a world where technology has become the focus, BCN provides an often missing key ingredient: the people. BCN people open windows to the world for senior citizens as they patiently teach them how to surf the net. They help non profit agencies redesign the way they do business. And they provide information for real people about real community issues.
The BCN mission is to facilitate the broad use of information technology to benefit the community. With an emphasis on Internet technologies, BCN also is concerned with innovation for public sector applications.
Transfer technology to community-based organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, and populations whose members encounter substantial barriers to technology use. BCN:
Help community-based organizations development online information in the public interest. BCN:
- Offers free web space and volunteer assistance in developing web sites to non-profit organizations in Boulder County;
- Integrates community information ranging from the weather and ski conditions, city and county regulations, lifelong learning opportunities, employment opportunities, district school and university information, calendar of events, arts and recreations, health services, and the environment.
- Works with school systems to develop curriculum around local content.
Innovate based on the needs and issues of the public and non-profit sector.
- BCN itself was a demonstration project for the Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
- The One-Stop Career Network and LINC, Local Information Connection, are transforming the way that human services are delivered in Boulder County.
- DIPPtm was created under the BCN umbrella to automate the posting and organization of web information.
- BCN has partnered with other organizations such as the Colorado Advanced Technology Institute (CATI) to help rural businesses in the Pueblo and Durango areas take advantage of the Internet. This project was funded by the Department of Commerce Economic Development Association.
- The Board of Directors meets monthly and works on fundraising and strategic planning.
- More than 200 volunteers, ranging in age from 14 to 75, develop web pages, host Internet orientations, design databases, network computers and troubleshoot information technology problems for the community. Here are some of their comments about volunteering at BCN.
- The Technical Advisory Committee serves as a forum for addressing BCN technical issues.
- The Teacher's and Center Developer's Committees each serves as a forum for the planning of education and on-line information.
- The Early History of BCN - more details on the background and early days of BCN.
- Fall, 1993 -- A team of university and community people meet and discuss the possibilities of a community network for Boulder County. A prototype web site is created. Partnerships with government, educational, and non-profit organizations are forged in writing a proposal to NTIA for a demonstration project in Boulder County.
- Spring, 1994 -- The official launch of the web site was March 15 1994, the ides of March. It was the second www-based community network site in the world after the Blacksburg Electronic Village (BEV). Within two months it had been visited by thousands of people in at least 14 foreign countries.
- Fall, 1994 -- BCN receives its first federal grant from NTIA. The project is funded by $250,000 from NTIA and $500,000 in matching funds from the community. The goal was to develop both organizational and technological infrastructure for a community network in Boulder County. Particular attention was focused on helping groups with access barriers. These included senior citizens, people with disabilities, non-English speaking communities, and low-income people. Public access to the web, with BCN as the portal, go live at the Boulder Public Library.
- Spring, 1995 -- BCN launches its still popular "public orientations." Volunteers introduce full classrooms of community members to the Internet with hands on sessions. (BCN has introduced more than 1000 community members to the Internet).
- Fall, 1995 -- More public access kiosks are installed in other places in the county. The structure is developed to match volunteers with non-profits to help them develop web sites.
- Spring, 1996 -- Golden West senior residence develops its own computer committee and becomes the most active public access site. BCN volunteer pool exceeds 50 people.
- Fall, 1996 -- Frame relay labs are installed. September School Kick off celebration. BCN receives its second grant from NTIA to develop the One Stop Career Network for Boulder County. BCN receives an award from the Economic Development Association through the Colorado Advanced Technology Institute to assist rural businesses with Internet use.
- Spring, 1997 -- Students from the university meet with human service agencies to assess their information redesign needs. Human service web sites are developed and intergrated.
- Fall, 1997 -- BCN receives approval for its 501 c.3 non-profit status, establishes a board of directors, and accepts its first checks from sponsors. BCN expands its volunteer matching program to include broader computer-related technical assistance to non-profits.
- Spring, 1998 -- The volunteer pool exceeds 75 people. More than 250 organizations have websites hosted by BCN, and hundreds more are linked through BCN pages.
- Fall, 1998 -- BCN is awarded a sub-contract to participate in the $1 million, two-year federal grant for the Virtual Chautauqua Project.
- Spring, 1999 -- The City of Boulder is awarded an EPA Empact Grant. BCN partners on Boulder Area Sustainability Impact Network : BASIN
BCN hosts its first fundraising event: a Birthday party
- Fall, 2001 -- BCN reforms itself as an even more grassroots organization, completely volunteer-driven.
- Fall, 2002 -- BCN's web hosting continues to grow, serving 10 million pages of information per year. BCN continues to put up new non-profit sites, and match volunteers with community organizations.
- Spring, 2006 -- BCN upgrades its web host to an PC running Ubuntu Linux with much more memory and disk, and moves to the hosting facility at Indra's Net.
- Spring, 2019 -- BCN server update and phasing out, to a VPS
The last major federally fund BCN project ended September, 2000, by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration grant for the Virtual Chautauqua Project. Our grant funding history is shown here.
BCN's volunteer-managed structure was very efficient. Our sponsors have included the University of Colorado, the Brett Family Foundation, U of C Federal Credit Union, the Rocky Mountain Next Internet Users Group, ENFO, ACX, and many individual Friends of BCN.
The BCN home page is pulled up on browsers from around the world an average of 600 times each day. Overall BCN receives around 20,000 requests for its pages each day (page requests -- not including images). For more information about BCN statistics:
HOW TO REACH US
BCN welcomes your questions and comments. We can be reached via e-mail