Widening Access: promoting e-commerce

Basic Information




Thematic areas

Behavioural change & mobility management
  • Mobility Planning


Widening Access is a package of measures designed to improve electronic access to services in order to reduce the number and length of journeys.

Implementing sustainable mobility

The measure was aimed at widening participation and encouraging e-learning and the use of other online services through the implementation of a wireless hotspot, providing equipment and Internet access to local residents, along with an online GIS database of community education opportunities. Specific goals were to:

  • improve on-line access to services and learning;
  • reduce the number and length of journeys;
  • promote sustainable transport; and
  • target vulnerable groups and areas of deprivation.

A home shopping trial was designed to enable housebound clients of the social services to shop independently. Earlier studies had identified a demand for an alternative to Internet shopping, thus Brunel University produced a low-technology bar code reader and computer for the trial.

A wireless hotspot was introduced in one area of the city, enabling local residents to connect to the Internet without a fixed connection. The education section of the city council acts as an Internet service provider.

A GIS-based map was designed to enable people with Internet access to obtain information about opportunities for education available in the local community, and how to access them using public transport.


In a survey of residents involved in the Knowle West Web, it was found that:

  • 13 percent of participants have started to work from home, reducing the need to travel;
  • 57 percent used the Internet for shopping and 35 percent used Internet banking facilities, which may lead to a reduced number of trips;
  • 74 percent stated that they used the Internet for educational purposes, with 26 percent actually completing training online; and
  • 30 percent used the Internet to obtain travel information. This suggests that Internet access may make it easier for people to travel by public transport.


Around a third of participants stated that the Internet reduced their need to travel to the bank and 39 percent claimed it reduced their need to travel to work and shops. Nearly half claimed that journeys to educational classes and to visit family and friends were reduced.


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