Friday, May 20, 2011

Philadelphia's Freedom Rings Partnership

Working to narrow Phila.'s digital divide. (Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/17/2011)

Excerpt: Sadly, too many people are left behind because they remain disconnected. The digital divide is widening within some circles, and you're more likely to be on the wrong side of the chasm based on your economic condition rather than the complexion of your skin. The bottom line is that if you're trying to figure out where your next meal is coming from, you're not going to be spending a lot of time on a smartphone, laptop, or iPad that you can't afford.

The good news is that Philadelphia is one of the cities leading the country in addressing this inequity. More than seven years ago, Philadelphia was ahead of the curve when it announced plans to make the city the nation's largest hot spot.

That ambitious plan fell short of its goal, but it nonetheless set the city up to be awarded federal dollars last year to establish the "Freedom Rings Partnership," a multiyear initiative to bring Internet access, training, and technology to residents in underserved communities. Led by the Urban Affairs Coalition and the City of Philadelphia's Division of Technology, with Drexel University as a major partner, the program seeks to connect more than 100,000 low-income Philadelphians over the next two years, particularly children, the under- and unemployed, and seniors. The plan includes setting up hubs at more than 130 locations citywide, including 77 public computer centers, as well as deploying four mobile computer labs that will travel throughout the city this spring and summer to provide Internet access and training.

Technology is only as powerful as the hands trained to use it

Full list of partners.

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