As a sort of followup to my blog post on internet access in rural areas, I have some thoughts on improving access for urban residents, spurred by this event, aimed at adivising the White House on how to best use the approximately $7 billion for broadband access included in the economic stimulus bill the President is about to sign:
"WHAT: InternetforEveryone.org Town Hall Meeting
WHEN: Saturday, March 7, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. EST
WHERE: Durham Marriott Convention Center, 201 Foster Street, Durham, N.C.
High-speed Internet, or "broadband," is becoming a crucial public necessity -- but more than 40 percent of all U.S. homes are not connected or use slow "dial-up" technology. To address this digital divide, President Barack Obama has vowed to "expand broadband linesacross America," and Congress is poised to spend billions on broadband as part of its economic stimulus bill. InternetforEveryone.org will deliver feedback from the Durham town hall meeting to the Obama administration and Congress as a national guide to building a better Internet."
Connectivity in design, Perloff Hall, UCLA
I find that both the economic stimulus plan and this event are conceiving of the work of closing digital divides in very broad terms. With luck (and a lot of hard work), events like this can help bring the focus where it's needed, and my previous entry about rural areas is not the only place where that is necessary. Here in the Triangle, though Durham, NC is considered a very wired place, closer examination is necessary to discover who does and does not use the internet, and who would if they could. Basically, in addition to the rural areas I mentioned in that April 2008 blog entry, many areas of the Research Triangle are in dire need of broadband and/or the hardware to access it, from the town of Carrboro to the largely unwired urban neighborhoods of east Durham. I hope that diverse voices representing these communities are present in the journey to connect all of America at this town hall meeting and throughout the process of envisioning and implementing the future of broadband access.
To RSVP for the Durham town hall meeting on March 7, go to their website.
Added on 02/18/09: For more on the rural/urban divide in broadband access, see the Daily Yonder's series of blogs on this topic:
Broadband Missing for Many Rural Dial-Up Users - posted on 02/17/09 and already garnering lots of great comments
Broadband Connection Highs and Lows Across Rural America - posted on 02/11/09
Speak Your Piece: Let Local Networks Deliver Broadband - posted on 01/27/09