San Jose city officials push for equitable access to technology through a $24 million fund that brings Internet access to low-income areas and eases a “digital divide” in the Silicon Valley over the next ten years.
San Jose Councilmembers committed last week to fund $2.2 million to help provide subsidized high-speed digital broadband services gathered from the Digital Inclusion Fund generated from the use of city light pole fees leased to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon’s new 5G cellular antennas which poise the state to becoming a leader in the Internet of things while the nation grapples with cyber-security measures halted by the Trump Administration.
“This is the great challenge of our generation, the growing divide between rich and poor,” City Mayor Sam Liccardo said, “Nowhere is this more palpable … then here in Silicon Valley.”
Honored to join @CityofSanJose to implement #SanJosé #DigitalInclusion Fund, the largest of its kind in the nation! We’ll close the #DigitalDivide in #SanJosé thanks to Mayor @sliccardo Vice Mayor @chappiejones and Honorable Councilmembers. Learn more: https://t.co/5Ke8BCmhzE pic.twitter.com/uq715a1oDk
— Internet for All Now (@net4allnow) February 13, 2019
Recently San Jose launched eleven new affordable housing projects and is including strategies to partner with community-based organizations like public libraries, schools, and other nonprofits to help students prepare for careers in computer science and related technology fields.
The money will be used to connect around 50,000 San Jose households with a high-speed internet connection following the California Assembly Bill 1665 that prompted the state to allocate $330 million to extend the California Advanced Services Fund for broadband deployment and adoption in rural and low-income urban areas lacking sufficient internet infrastructure.
The city of San Jose is known to have the highest cost of living in the nation due to inflation brought on by the tech giant’s recent occupation. Now, the city finds itself under constant turmoil after residents are speaking out against the corporate dominance of the Northern California terrain which was recently devastated by a wildfire that was blamed on Proctor and Gamble. The fire displaced hundreds of families in Northern California.
The San Jose City Council partnered with the California Emerging Technology Fund to fundraise and implement an initial $1 million in grants.
“While $2.2 million per year is insufficient, it will seed money that will prime the pump to get foundations, grants, and corporate donations flowing into funds to help prepare young people for a competitive job market in the US” Sunne McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund.
It’s estimated $24 million will be available for programs to help the persisting “homework gap” in the state that is currently facing backslash by conservative adversaries in the White-House who condemn California for being a self-proclaimed sanctuary state.
“Indeed, significant progress has been made in narrowing the Digital Divide in California over the last 10 years. However, most disadvantaged populations still remain unconnected or under-connected. These residents also often are confronted with an interrelated set of factors and forces that constitute a huge barrier to overcome and escape a “wall of poverty”, resulting in these households being left behind at an accelerating pace that stunts and stifles California’s global potential,” said CETF President and CEO Sunne Wright McPeak.
In 2009, the Federal Communication Commission’s Broadband Task Force reported that approximately 70 percent of teachers assign homework requiring access to the Internet. In addition, about 65 percent of students used the Internet at home to complete homework. This could include submitting assignments, connecting with teacher/student discussion boards, working on shared documents, group projects and conducting online research for assignments. But access to the Internet at home is not only for students. Parents too rely on the Internet to be fully informed on their child’s academic performance, with many schools turning to online grading systems and communicating with family members in other parts of the world.
A study conducted by the Field Research Corporation 2016-17 Annual Survey shows that broadband adoption (use of high‐speed Internet access at home) is at 84 percent statewide (of which 14 percent is smartphone only), up 29 percent since 2008. Broadband adoption increased from 33 percent to 74 percent for low‐income households, from 34 percent to 80 percent for Latino families, and from 36 percent to 71 percent for people with disabilities.
While these increases indicate significant progress, the sad news is that 25 percent of the households (a full quarter of the population) remain on the other side of the Digital Divide. These households are mostly in urban poor neighborhoods or remote rural areas already suffering from other socio-economic hardships.