Serving Local Needs with Telecommunications

Alternative Applications for Public Services

by William A. Lucas, Robert K. Yin

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Describes a research approach for applying new telecommunications to public service delivery. The report uses two case studies and illustrative experiments to determine the comparative value of using telecommunications. Somerville, Massachusetts, an example of a dense inner suburb with a cable system, serves as a context for comparing services to the home with the use of the neighborhood telecommunications center. The second case study of Loudoun County, Virginia, addresses problems of nonmetropolitan areas where lower population densities and longer distances make a cable system economically unviable, and alternatives to cable must be considered. The two cases focus on nine possible experiments. These experiments test alternative approaches to client-provider interactions, interactions among service users, data management systems, interorganizational communications, service education, and information services. Taken together, the nine experiments are the beginning of a tentative research agenda that spans the critical issues of telecommunications and public services.

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