Communities across the United States today sit at a flash point. On one side, the long-simmering gaps in our broadband infrastructure and the prohibitive cost of fast, reliable Internet access faced by low-income households have left millions of families behind, unable to work, learn, visit the doctor, or stay connected to their local governments. On the other, billions in federal broadband funding have been disbursed over the last twelve months, with tens of billions more to come both directly to cities and counties and, further down the road, via grants given out by state broadband offices. It’s a rare chance to address the digital divide in all of its forms.
But the broadband landscape is complicated and confusing for those new to working in it. Every day, we hear from communities looking to orient themselves to the challenges and opportunities they face, and this need only seems to be growing. In response, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is excited to announce two new programs to help leaders and local government officials address their community’s needs in practical, efficient, clear-eyed ways, with sensitivity to all the things that make their community unique. ILSR has nearly 20 years of experience working on local broadband solutions that are accountable to local residents and businesses. We helped to develop the Tribal Broadband Bootcamp, and have worked with hundreds of communities from the smallest towns to the largest cities and counties.
Neither of the programs below is intended to replace existing specialized consultants. Rather, the aim is to help communities understand what their options are before they engage with consultants, so that they can be more efficient with their time.
Announcing the Urban Digital Equity Bootcamp
While most policymakers remain focused on broadband gaps in rural areas, residents of urban areas understand all too well the connectivity problems faced by those who live in cities. The greatest opportunities to achieve digital equity in urban communities is approaching, with unprecedented government and philanthropic support available to address needs long neglected. However, communities need local champions to ensure that problems are resolved in accordance with local goals.
More than 20 years of top-down solutions have failed to result in more connected, resilient communities. The ...Read more