Canadian Research Alliance for Community Innovation and Networking

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CRACIN, Canada



"The Canadian Research Alliance for Community Innovation and Networking (CRACIN) is a research partnership established in 2003 to investigate the status and achievements of community-based information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives in Canada. CRACIN is funded by a four-year grant of $899,450 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Initiative on the New Economy (INE) (File#: 538-2003-1012).

CRACIN brings together community informatics researchers, community networking practitioners and government policy specialists from across Canada to document and assess the achievements of community-based ICT initiatives in the context of, among other things, the main Canadian government programs promoting the development, public accessibility and use of internet services. Under the federal government's 'Connecting Canadians' agenda, over $400 million dollars have been invested in funding thousands of non-profit and community based organizations to help Canadians communicate electronically, both locally and globally, as well as to access informational services and resources that strengthen participation in contemporary economic and social life.

However, to date, there has been very little systematic research documenting or assessing the effectiveness of these initiatives, or of the government programs supporting them. CRACIN seeks to carry out such research, to synthesize some of the lessons learned from these efforts (particularly those that might be of interest in guiding future programs nationally and globally) , and to situate them within a wider research and knowledge context to shed light on how these valuable public services can be sustained into the future.

Broadly speaking, CRACIN's research examines how community networking initiatives in Canada contribute to:

  • the amelioration of 'digital divides'; the fostering of local civic participation;
  • the development of community-oriented informational resources and cultural content;
  • the creation and use of community-oriented learning tools; promoting local economic development; and
  • local innovation in the development of ICT infrastructure, software, and applications.

CRACIN researchers are engaged in three different kinds of research studies: in-depth structured case studies of leading Canadian community networking initiatives; thematic studies of relevance to community networking research generally; and integrative studies, which address themes and issues cutting across two or more of the case study sites and which provide a basis for their systematic comparison. The Alliance also engages in policy-related activities and collaboratively develops strategies for the sustainability of community networking initiatives." (