Jun 8, 2023
What’s New in Digital Equity: Maine Shares Digital Equity Drafts
Plus, Detroit’s parks are getting public Wi-Fi; the White House has launched invest.gov; New York continues to up enrollment in broadband program; and more.
This week in “What’s New in Digital Equity” — our weekly look at government digital equity and broadband news — we have a number of interesting items, which you can jump to with the links below:
- Maine Shares Drafts of Digital Equity Plans
- Detroit Parks Get Public Wi-Fi
- White House Launches Invest.gov
- New York Ups Enrollment in Muni Broadband Program
- Charlotte, N.C., Rolls Out ACP Program
- Georgetown Announces Tech and Public Policy Grants
MAINE SHARES DRAFTS OF DIGITAL EQUITY PLANS
Maine has released a pair of drafts for digital equity-related plans, the first being a five-year broadband action plan and the second being digital equity, the state announced.
As the state revises the plans, it is currently taking feedback from the public on them. This revision period will run through the end of the month. Both plans seek to serve Maine’s goal of maximizing the unprecedented amount of federal funding available for digital equity. While there are two plans here, the announcement notes that the “Broadband Action Plan ... is rooted in digital equity.” In this way, the two are companion plans.
In addition to accepting online suggestions during the revision process, the state is also holding in-person events in various communities there, including Augusta and Machias. On top of that, it will also hold a pair of virtual sessions during the middle of the month.
DETROIT PARKS GET PUBLIC WI-FI
Several Detroit parks will soon have public Wi-Fi, which residents can use for free.
Five public parks, to be exact, will soon offer the Wi-Fi, which is a program being put together by the Detroit Parks Coalition, the city, and Connect 313, a local nonprofit. Those five parks are Bradby Park, Clark Park, Chandler Park, Palmer Park and McDuffy Park. The pilot program for this effort has already been rolled out, funded by $265,000 in grants from organizations such as the Detroit Pistons, Rocket Community Fund and the Knight Foundation.
To date, the Wi-Fi is live in Palmer Park, and stakeholders estimate that it can serve as many as 5,000 residential homes, which is more than 12,600 residents, all of whom live within a half-mile walk of the park.
WHITE HOUSE LAUNCHES INVEST.GOV
A new website from the White House, invest.gov, features an interactive map to display public- and private-sector investments being made across the country.
The website, which was officially launched this week, displays projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Projects funded by certain private-sector investments — including those made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the American Rescue Plan — will also be included.
Invest.gov illustrates where investments are being made and will be updated regularly to include recent investments and other projects that are announced. The website offers information on the impact of the president’s Investing in America agenda, including jobs created, new businesses started, major infrastructure projects and more.
For example, when looking at the summary for the state of Ohio, the website details that 925,800 households are receiving affordable access to Internet through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) since Biden took office. For California, that number is 2.1 million. (Julia Edinger)
NEW YORK UPS ENROLLMENT IN MUNI BROADBAND PROGRAM
New York City’s free municipal broadband program for those in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) households, Big Apple Connect, reached a milestone this week as over 100,000 households have enrolled since the program’s launch in September 2022. According to the city’s announcements, this marks enrollment for about 75 percent of eligible residents.
“The arrival of Big Apple Connect marked a paradigm shift in New York City’s affordable broadband strategy — one that prioritized immediate action to meet the urgent needs of our students, families, and older adults living in public housing,” said New York City Chief Technology Officer and OTI Commissioner Matthew Fraser in the announcement.
The program was expanded in March 2023 to make it available to an additional 40,000 households. Since its launch, the program has saved NYCHA residents tens of millions of dollars. (Julia Edinger)
CHARLOTTE, N.C., ROLLS OUT ACP PROGRAM
In other efforts to boost enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles joined together this week to announce the “Your Home, Your Internet” pilot program.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established this one-year pilot program in August 2022 to help increase awareness of and enrollment in the ACP. The goal is to test the best methods to help consumers receive assistance through the ACP.
Inlivian, an affordable housing provider in the city, was reported to be one of 23 applicants selected to receive over $300,000 in grant funding from the FCC to help families pay for Internet access. (Zack Quaintance)
GEORGETOWN ANNOUNCES TECH AND PUBLIC POLICY GRANTS
The Tech and Public Policy program at Georgetown University has announced the recipients of its Tech and Public Policy grants, which total nearly $2 million in research funding.
The grants are made in partnership with Project Liberty’s Institute, which is the digital governance arm of the program. The goal is to support the work of technologists, ethicists, legal scholars and social scientists who work on tech policy issues that range from biomanipulation to law enforcement training, and more.
Other winning projects for these grants include initiatives related to the effects of social media overuse, realistic approaches to research platforms for open science, using large-scale media data to reduce polarization, and more.
More information about these grants and the winning projects can be found via the award’s press release here. (Zack Quaintance)