ellohay! West Michigan

UK study says digital inclusion makes people more confident

Posted in data, education, good news, membership benefits, research by forgr on October 10, 2008

Google Reader brought great news to me this morning in the form of an article from 24dash.com titled “New research links digital inclusion and social impact”. Yes, you read it correctly. An excerpt,

More than 12,000 people took part in the social impact demonstrator projects between January 2007 and March 2008. By the end of the project, participants were more likely to feel confident, and 40% had progressed into further training, employment, information, advice and guidance.

Working with the computers helped to improve people’s maths and English, and they were more likely to spend time with friends and family, and more likely to connect with and help out in their communities.

Published by Hannah Wooderson for 24dash.com in Communities, Wednesday 8th October 2008 – 3:38pm.

So in other words, this is really good news. It proves what I’ve been (just) insisting over the last 10 months. And yes, it’s just the beginning, I’m sure there will be ongoing studies to discover the long term impact, and more studies that out-right contradict it. However this is one more juicy juicy morsel that will help convince future partners, collaborators and potential funders that what we’re doing is good for our community.

Keep it coming, we need all the proof we can get.

Advertisements

Article: Was EarthLink’s failed citywide Wi-Fi a blessing in disguise?

Posted in benchmarks, potential problems, wifi by forgr on September 7, 2008

A recent article from Tirana Magazine on Philadelphia’s wi-fi network, the Wireless Philadelphia organization and doing a really solid job on…

Defining the digital divide

There’s been a lot of chatter over the years about the digital divide or the idea that there is a great chasm between people who have access to technology such as computers and the Internet, and those who do not. While some 68 percent of the U.S. population has access to the Internet via broadband or dial-up connections, there are still millions of people across the country who do not have any access at all.

Overwhelmingly, these unconnected individuals tend to be minorities and people with low education levels. A recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that only 57 percent of African Americans and 37 percent of Hispanics have Internet access. And only 29 percent of people who have not graduated from high school are connected to the Internet.

It’s difficult to gauge what the impact of this exclusion means. In the past, Internet access was viewed as an unnecessary luxury, a tool used to send e-mail and casually surf Web sites. But increasingly, the Internet has become an important tool for getting information about and access to just about everything from health care to social services. It’s used as a tool to engage parents in their children’s education. And as newspapers shed their classified listings, it’s become an important tool for looking for jobs.

“Digital inclusion has traditionally been seen as a charity initiative,” The Knight Foundation’s Perry said. “But that is rapidly changing. Increasingly, cities of all types–urban, suburban, and rural–are linking universal digital access to economic development imperatives.”

From the beginning, Wireless Philadelphia’s goal has been to provide broadband service to families who have never owned a computer and have little or no online experience. The group believes that getting these families online will increase their access to educational, employment, and life opportunities.

But it will also have big benefits for the city, such as reducing crime and unemployment, improving public health and social service efficiency, and increasing educational excellence.

“It’s nearly impossible to apply for an entry-level job today without having basic digital skills and Internet access,” Greg Goldman, CEO of Wireless Philadelphia said. “And there have been studies that show patients who access information online about HIV AIDS, hypertension, or diabetes have better health outcomes.”

We’ll find out what happens next quite soon…

Digital Inclusion in SFGTV, video

Posted in benchmarks, education by forgr on March 2, 2008

Notes:

• Important to have access to high speed internet
• Need to have knowledge to use those tools effectively
• Understand the value of a computer
• We want the digital inclusion task force to make sure that we address the needs of undeserved vulnerable communities, not communities that are already very tech saavy
• People don’t know that these computers are available to them
• They don’t know what is useful
• There are so many businesses in the area that are constantly retiring their computer equipment that’s perfectly good for home use
• Computers and internet access are helping everyone in the community
• Barriers, confusion, intimidation, not having anyone in their peer network that uses computers in their lives
• Immigrants are able to communicate with their families at home
• Able to receive news and information in their own language
• Connected with the world, and connected with their local communities
• If we value the diversity of our city, and value the diverse neighborhoods in our city, we need to insure that they remain economically viable. Equipping residents with jobs in those areas is critical to them.
• Workers with more education in this area are more likely to be working in the technology sector. They are going to need familiarity in that area, they are going to find value in it and they are going to use it and be produce with it every day.
• The other half of that population is disconnected from that opportunity and that prosperity.
• Content is essential
• We have to blend community network and computer equipment, with training and support. If we can pull all that together then we’ve got it.
• It’s more about social and economic justice than just technology

TechConnect (San Francisco)

Posted in benchmarks, education by forgr on February 29, 2008

The TechConnect Digital Inclusion initiative is a set of programs to help all San Franciscans access technology to improve their lives.

TechConnect’s Digital Inclusion programs provide ways for San Franciscans to more easily obtain a computer for their home, as well as the technology training and support needed to use it effectively. TechConnect also seeks to increase the availability of culturally relevant Internet content and applications.

From the TechConnect website:

Implementation Approach
The principles underlying the implementation of the San Francisco Digital Inclusion Program are to:

·      Engage the community in a community driven planning and implementation process.

·      Leverage existing community, governmental and business resources whenever possible.
Include measurable outcomes and indicators of success.

In less than a decade, the Internet has radically changed how people communicate, seek employment, and access services, education and entertainment. Students use the Internet for research and to create new works of all types. Businesses use the Internet to extend their service offerings, improve customer service and improve their bottom lines.  Governments at all levels find new ways to harness the Internet to improve the delivery of public services.  Nonprofits and community based organizations are using the Internet to better reach out to their constituencies and fulfill their social missions.

Enhanced Digital Literacy Programs
·      Relevant, Multi-language Internet Content and Online Services such as the promotion of multi-lingual web portals, promotion of community based web sites, content development training programs, and new collaborations across San Francisco’s communities.

Possible Strategies:
·      Implement communications programs to increase awareness of programs that collect, refurbish, distribute and sell used computers to underserved communities.

·      Develop low or no-interest computer purchase program that enables qualifying low-income residents to purchase new PCs (desktops and laptop computers) and supporting equipment (printers, Customer Premise Equipment) for a low monthly cost ($25-$60) over a 1-3 year loan term and required computer training.  The City will partner with technology vendors and financial institutions to implement this program.  The City will seek to partner with the Unified School District and local nonprofits to distribute the computers and provide training.

·      Organize technology fairs in the City’s most underserved neighborhoods where participants will be able to sign up for the computer purchase programs, vendors can provide information about purchasing computers, networking equipment and other internet devices; and refurbished computer providers will be able to collect donated equipment, provide information about or possibly even sell refurbished computers onsite.

·      Provide education and information about buying a computer and available resources for purchasing low-cost hardware on the digital inclusion program website and provide written materials at community events and technology support centers.

·      Facilitate partnerships between device and application providers (e.g.: Nokia, Skype) with nonprofits and schools to introduce new devices and applications for underserved communities.

A Conversation with Wireless Philadelphia

Posted in benchmarks, conversations, discovery stages, meetings, organization, planning, projects, research, wifi by forgr on February 26, 2008

Conversation with Thomas Kim, Operations Manager Wireless Philadelphia
(I called Wireless Philadelphia’s office today as a concerned citizen in Grand Rapids, MI. a man named Thomas answered the phone, I later learned that it was Thomas Kim, Operations Manager of the program. Notes are below in short statements… I’ll summarize at the end)

Their project is divided into three parts, all cooperating together 1. Wireless Philadelphia, 2. City of Phily, and 3. Earthlink
Wireless Philadelphia is a non-profit runs independently, no tax dollars went into it at all
RPF sent out from Wireless Philadelphia
EarthLink was chosen
They offered to pay build out themselves, operate it and maintain it
Concessions were made, generate revenue from subscribers
Main objective, was to make sure that there was digital inclusion, help brdge that gap
Subsidized accounts were created with EarthLink, $9.95
They are currently in a holding pattern, waiting to see what happens now that Earthlink is being purchased. Sucks. Read the snappy article on Philebritiy here.

Mayor was the incorporated, Interin COO
CIO put together an executive committee
City Government was part of that committee

(Thomas mentioned that Clearwire will most likely do Advertising, municipality)
Governance of organization: Board has four appointments, Mayor, 3 by council, 2 by board, CIO serves on board by default.

Marketing, website was part of operation, was from grants to Wireless Phildelphia Digital Inclusion program:
Group: Purchase bundles, $600 internet for one year, a laptop, classes, support resources
Individuals: sign up locations to earn a laptop, support, classes

They reached out to EARN, employment resources, network, welfare to work. Incentivized benchmarks, state funded.

They reached out to OIC programs, vocational institutions community based, life skill enhancement or building, city departments, ex-offenders, senior citizens based organizations, undeserved.

Brief time line: ’05 Business Plan, RFP. Summer of ’06 CEO was put in place, Fall of ’06 started finally, contracts

Not very well communicated in the beginning stages.

Is the program successful? When had full backing of vendor, okay
Biggest pain? service is the problem now

Wireless Philadelphia has largest Wifi coverage, 75%
Huston, 600 square miles
Portland, comparable

(WiMax will have same problems, Radio Frequency changes)

Any resources that your organization can offer to other cities, a kit, a how to? Nope.

About section on the website has more information, historic documents pdfs, RFP, network agreement, defines relationship

In short
Do it, and get as many community resources involved, write a complete business plan. He said we could call anytime.