The City is involved in another public/private partnership that is going to benefit residents of four targeted areas of the city, Allied Drive, Darbo Worthington, Brentwood and Kennedy Heights. These four neighborhoods are affected by what we have come to know as the Digital Divide.
The Digital Divide is a barrier to people having affordable internet access. This affects people in their everyday lives. Most internet providers require bundling internet access with phone and TV service. The monthly cost can quickly leap well beyond $100/month.
The digital divide creates a social and cultural divide. It creates a gap, a loss of opportunity, loss of achievement potential and a loss of equity, between those with resources and those without. It creates a DIVIDE between citizens. City leaders, managers, staff, and others recognize this issue. The Common Council established the Digital Technology Committee (DTC) to address this need as well as the larger broadband access issue. One initiative is the Digital Divide Pilot Project. Alders, staff and citizen members worked together to devise a pilot project called Connecting Madison to help underserved neighborhoods.
This effort will make affordable internet access available to residents for as little as $9.99/month. I was able to kick off the project with City Information Technology Director Paul Kronberger, local funders, officials from: DaneNet, Cascade Asset Management and ResTech, and residents from the Allied Drive Neighborhood.
The four city pilot areas to benefit from this program will be able to obtain internet service, donated refurbished computers for qualified residents, and digital literacy training for residents.