- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Our Chance to Build a City Where Everyone has Internet Access
From The Daily News
The Internet for Everyone
By Todd Wolfson of Media Mobilizing Project and Hannah Sassaman of the Digital Justice Coalition
PHILADELPHIA is lining up for a race with a big prize - tens of millions in stimulus money to expand Internet access. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has authorized $7.2 billion for broadband programs, with everything from tricking out community centers with high-speed lines to mapping broadband availability already on the table as fundable programs.
The other day in Erie, Vice President Biden announced the guidelines, and set a 45-day window for the first round of applications, closing Aug. 14. That's especially exciting for us, since only about 50 percent of Philadelphians have daily Internet access and even fewer have access at home.
With all the economic problems the city and the country face, why has the administration prioritized the Internet? As Biden said, these grants are "a first step toward realizing President Obama's vision of a nationwide 21st century communications infrastructure - one that encourages economic growth, enhances America's global competitiveness and helps address many of America's most pressing challenges."
With Internet access, low-income families can access jobs, young people can create media about their lives and neighborhoods, small businesses can innovate and develop, and communities can take greater part in government. Access to broadband communication gives poor people power that they need more than ever.
It's great that we have a chance at money to build a communications system that serves everyone. But the feds are being very careful about how that money gets used. "Service" can't just mean that Verizon will come to your home and install a line for a monthly fee many can't afford. It will mean training, hardware and the leadership to get people online in real ways.
That's why the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is looking hard at the applications. It isn't just big corporations or shiny ideas that will walk away with these dollars - the more community engagement the NTIA sees, the better the chances of getting the cash.
But Philly is ready. Our chief information officer, Allan Frank, deserves credit for leading the most open process in the country when it comes to designing the city's application for broadband stimulus. A series of conversations with community groups and institutional leaders, launched with an all-day meeting on June 23, will lead to an application designed by everyone from high school students to shelter managers and community organizers.
The rest is here: