Published by The Grunion on March 15, 2019
By Lena Gonzalez
Cities and states across the nation are grappling with ways to get their most vulnerable and underserved residents connected to the internet. With recent rulings by the Federal Communications Commission to limit local regulations concerning 5G wireless technologies, it has become even more critical for cities to act now and to involve residents and community stakeholders in creating solutions that are tailored to the specific challenges they face.
Last year, I led the Long Beach City Council on this issue and we unanimously passed the City’s first Digital Inclusion policy. Since then, we have begun to develop a citywide framework to address challenges of digital inclusion and equity. In partnership with the Department of Technology and Innovation and the Office of Civic Innovation, we have:
• Hired a project lead to manage the Digital Inclusion initiative;
• Established a Fiber Master Plan to extend our fiber backbone and connect all city facilities to high-speed internet;
• Convened two Digital Inclusion Roundtables with a multi-disciplinary coalition of stakeholders across private and public sectors;
• Received a detailed report by the Technology & Innovation Commission with recommendations for advancing digital inclusion citywide;
• Supported legislation at the state and federal levels to bridge the digital divide for low-income residents;
• Launched a community-engaged Smart Cities initiative to pilot Internet of Things solutions along the Anaheim Street Corridor; and
• Celebrated International Digital Inclusion Week and Computer Science Education Week (CSEd Week) through in-person and social media educational outreach.
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