Information to enable local economic development is the core principles on which XtownX is based.
We asked the question "why is it so difficult to find information about what goods and services are available in small towns and rural communities". We started our work in the Central Drakensberg, around Champagne Castle, which is rich tourist area of the country and also a fertile agricultural region. However, there is no reliable directory of the business services available, which is the most basic of all requirements to do business in an area.
The White Pages used to serve the basis for access to businesses in a town, but many businesses do not currently use land lines, and only work with mobile phones.
The problem we faced is this .... that if someone in a town wants to buy something, or needs a particular service, then they will generally try to find this locally, but if there is no way to find this, they will resort to word-of-mouth, or most likely will drive out to the nearest large town or city.
If the goods and services are not found locally, then the money will be spent outside of the town and here is a major problem, since when money leaves a town it is very difficult to get it back again. The more money that stays within a town, the greater will be the wealth within the town, and the more money is available for new business and new jobs. This is the core economic principle on which XtownX is based.
In order to realise this principle, we provide an environment for economic development which contains the following core functions:
- a business directory which includes small business that are traditional "below the radar"
- a thesaurus of all types of goods, services, activities and skills
- a spatial model which identifies the places and the relationship between places
- a search engine which allows for finding information that is relevant to a query, including information which is close but not necessarily exact
- a facility to allow small businesses, as well as large businesses, to have their own personal mini web page suited for mobile phones
- a rating system allowing consumers of businesses to rate these businesses
This is the start of a new Information Society, in which everyone within a town will have reliable access to all businesses within the town, which will help them find what they are looking for without having to go to the next town.