Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Importance of Broadband Deployment in Cities

Today the U.S. Conference of Mayors paid special attention for the need for easily available broadband internet connection in our cities.
The mayors were joined by Alberto Ibarg├╝en, the President and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Knight Foundation in partnership with One Community formed the Knight Center on Digital Excellence, the first national non-profit resource center dedicated to helping communities create sustainable universal access programs.
I am personally grateful to the Knight Foundation for their partnership and investments in our community to help Miami become a globally competitive city.
Keep this in mind:
The United States is now #15 in the world in broadband deployment.
Korea, Japan, Canada, Spain, and Poland all surpass us in providing their citizens with access to the digital world. As a nation, we have to address our ability to compete in the global economy – a digital economy. In ten years, 70% of all jobs will require technology knowledge and skills.
Cities must address digital inclusion aggressively and consistently and we must take serious steps to create the technical infrastructure and a digitally capable workforce.
During the last several years, cities have entered into partnerships with the private sector to provide broadband wireless infrastructure in their communities.
But many of these attempts have largely failed because there have been challenges with the financial models -and that was before the economic crisis that we are now facing.
But there are good news. Now we have partners in Congress and in the new administration. The economic recovery plans of both the House and President Elect Obama address the need to provide wide broadband access to our citizens by proposing a $ 6 billion dollar investment in broadband and wireless services in under-served areas.
In Miami, we have worked for the last 6 years to provide both infrastructure and digital literacy programs. elevate Miami is a comprehensive, life-long approach focused on the accessibility and affordability of technology and training for youth, adults, senior citizens and small businesses.
The initiative encompasses ePark and eSenior Computer labs, the Rites of Passage Initiative with Public Schools and workforce training. With the support of the Knight Foundation, over time this program will put a computer in every home.
We have also been working with the Knight Center of Digital Excellence for the past year on a “Community Broadband” project that will bring together Miami’s government, business, education, healthcare, and non-profit organizations to create a plan to address Community Broadband – both in infrastructure as well as digital skills.
It is imperative that cities, private businesses and philanthropic institutions realize the importance of investing in creating digitally connected communities in order to remain globally competitive.
Find out more at http://knightcenter.org/
- Manny