The foundation of the Communities project is a structured directory in which any business or community group can create and maintain information about themselves and their web sites. The structured directory is publicly owned and the specific business or community data is owned by the business or community group concerned.
Additionally, the Trust makes available a set of data management and web site building tools that allow business and community groups to manage their own directory listings and web sites.
The Trust provides a neutral foundation for communities which may contain many competing businesses and organisations to have equal access.
Another foundation is that businesses and community groups take ownership and responsibility for their own information. The Trust is providing the tools - it is up to each business and community group to make use of them.
While the Trust is committed to lowering the threshold cost and complexity of setting up an Internet presence, it is not setting out to compete with web site developers or internet service providers. Creating an environment where businesses and community groups can easily promote themselves or share information will also create many more opportunities for web developers to build more comprehensive web sites embracing product directories and e-commerce, or other advanced features.
The community web sites are organised around real geographically-based communities in New Zealand towns. Navigation is also map-based where appropriate as this provides a natural and intuitive interface. Communities of interest are also provided for and are accessed through the appropriate directories by subject.
Funding for the services provided comes from a small annual subscription paid by businesses for their web pages to have a link from the various directories. Non-profit community groups, clubs and support organisations have a free link/page. The income generated is used to cover the cost of providing and marketing the service, with any surplus being returned to the community.