More information in Portuguese about this award-winning program.
When the current administration of Pirai (RJ) took office in 1996, there were only two telephone lines and two computers available to the City Hall. The Digital Municipality Program seeks to change this reality of reduced information technology and lack of communication resources by creating democratic access to information and communication vehicles, thus stimulating new possibilities for economic and social development.
After an initial study by the University of Brasilia (UnB), the City Hall developed the Digital Municipality Program, requesting financing from the BNDES. The proposal's focus was the educational sphere, and implementation costs were estimated at R$ 1.5 million. The proposal was turned down, but the Program team rose to the challenge, designing a cheaper technological solution that at the same time was adequate to the municipality's geographical characteristics of districts separated by valleys and mountains. The option was for a mixed solution, where broadband connection is brought through a hybrid system with wireless support (SHSW System).
An agreement between the City Hall and the Federal Fluminense University (UFF) resulted in a project for the educational sphere, involving schools, laboratories and libraries, linked by means of a digital data network. However, the concept of local development encouraged the Program's creators to widen the scope to bring to the entire population possibilities for accessing the new technologies.
When the several Municipal Departments were connected using resources from the BNDES Program for Modernization of Tributary Administration (PMAT), the Program team found that this system would also work to integrate schools and public terminals in the network, without needing further resources. This encouraged the search for partnerships in the local sphere. Companies who decide to install themselves within the municipality are invited to extend their work on technological infrastructure to neighboring schools, libraries, community tele-centers and other public localities. The Municipal Government of Pirai has also set up a network of partnerships with Federal and State government organs, NGOs such as Viva Rio and Rede Rio, large companies such as Itautec, Banco Real and the Cintra brewery, as well as a number of universities. In 2003, a distance learning university was launched, with help from the public universities of the state of Rio de Janeiro (UFF, UFRJ and UERJ), offering an alternative for further education to all of Pirai's population.
A City Council accompanies the execution of the Digital Municipality Structure Plan, with representatives from the municipal government, the Legislative, the Judiciary, community organizations, NGOs, universities, public utility companies, syndicates and the industrial sector.
While many other experiences of digital inclusion focus on a specific group, Pirai provides access to the new technologies for all. In the rural areas, the new resources permit producers to access information on forms of export, production costs and product prices. In municipal schools, teachers and pupils experiment enthusiastically with the new tools. With distance learning and continued education, new training possibilities emerge. Since the network was inaugurated, several businesses have demonstrated interest in setting up in the city. Within the municipal administration, modernization has extended from the tributary area to other organs, bringing more transparency to use of public funds. At present, 21 access points have been installed in administrative areas, with 100% coverage; 13 access points in the educational area, representing a 55% coverage; and in health, five access points, reaching 33% of the municipal network. All equipment is connected to the SHSW network.