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In March 1997, Prince Edward Island became the first and only Canadian province to have province-wide access to a high-speed network capable of carrying data, audio, graphics, and video at a speed 5,500 times the industry norm. This Provincial Broadband Network will give Prince Edward Island one of the best information technology infrastructure systems on the continent. The network paves the way for business opportunities such as telecommuting and full-motion video-conferencing from anywhere in the province. There is also great potential for community services through integrated health services with Island-wide information management.

The Community Access Program (CAP) establishes Internet access sites in communities across the province. Through the partnership between the federal and provincial governments and community-based organizations, CAP sites are a key component in connecting rural communities to the “information superhighway,” thus educating citizens, creating jobs, and developing communities. By 1999, the Community Access Program had 46 designated sites across the Island, twenty of which are in schools and ten in public libraries.

The Knowledge Economy Partnership is a unique collaboration between federal and provincial government departments with Island post-secondary institutions. The Partnership mission is to share information, resources and expertise to take advantage of the expanding opportunities created by the explosion of information-based industries.

The Information Technologies Association of Prince Edward Island (ITAP, incorporated in 1997) and its members are at the forefront of the information technology industry in the province. ITAP seeks to provide leadership on issues affecting the growth and prosperity of the “IT” and telecommunications industry in Prince Edward Island. There are approximately 60 members in the association and many offer training in computer use and programming. Other members offer information management services for businesses and organizations, while still others are involved in website design for electronic commerce.

Prince Edward Island’s Acadian community is taking advantage of information technology in an exciting way: as a tool for community and cultural development. The Francophone Telecommunity Project, sponsored by the Société Educative de l’I.P.E. links all Acadian and Francophone areas of the Island using NICT (New Information and Communications Technologies) that provide access to the internet and to data, information, and knowledge banks that are otherwise difficult to access in rural communities. This network facilitates distance education and training in French with post-secondary and professional programs. Other priorities include the development of French multimedia products that will provide access to a previously untapped international market and the improvement of the quality and quantity of French-language government programs and services available to Island Acadians and Francophones.

The growth of information technology on Prince Edward Island is creating exciting new opportunities for culture and economy in the province. Creative production—music, visual art, and storytelling—provides opportunities for cultural preservation and development. Communication within and between communities, as the Acadian telecommunity and the Prince Edward Island government’s on-line information kiosk are a testimony to the enormous potential for this medium.

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