California’s Timid and Rickety Toll Bridge over the Digital Divide, What Helsinki Teaches Us

The State’s answers on the digital divide lacks imagination, staying power, and enforcement.  We can do better, and there are plenty of examples of cities that are.  The Department of Education recently announced its digital divide task force, which had about as many teeth as George Washington.  Here’s how they describe it’s powers,

“The task force will help facilitate donations, such as a recent gift from Google to provide 100,000 Wi-Fi hotspots and 4,000 Chromebooks, as well as future corporate and individual donations the state has been calling for.

The group also plans to hold a public hearing where “internet service providers may be called upon to testify on their efforts to improve internet access during the pandemic,” according to a press release from the California Department of Education.”

So, it takes donations and it “may” want to ask questions of internet providers. Meanwhile over a million low income children can’t get online.

It’s somewhere between a Goodwill and chat line.  Why don’t I have confidence that this task force will matter for Oakland’s kids 6 months from now?

And why aren’t we thinking bigger and demanding more? Other cities have figured it out.

Finally, why are we being held hostage by internet companies?

I am not a tech guy but I can google and look at Helsinki.  Free very high speed internet to everyone.  The City put hotspots in all of its buildings and opened them up.  These speeds are way faster than my home broadband. 

We need a new infrastructure for internet delivery.  One that is not dependent on private companies for access.  All children need access to school, now and going forward that means access to high speed internet.

We are the richest, smartest, state in the history of the world why cant we figure out how to get kids to school? And why isn’t the State working harder to figure that out?

What do you think?

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