This morning I participated in a panel discussion about community technology resources with Alderman David Moore (17), Alderman Roderick Sawyer (6), Edward Coleman, Chief Innovation Officer of Bethel New Life, and Tina James, Director of Commercial and Technology Services at Greater Southwest Development Corporation.
We spoke about the need to support and fund community technology for all.
Here’s an article from today in the Chicago Tribune about funding for community technology centers. Snip:
Dan O’Neil, an advisory committee member who also is executive director of Smart Chicago Collaborative, whose mission is to increase Internet access, said at the meeting that he believes funding should be doubled.
See also this post I wrote on the Smart Chicago blog: This Morning: Eliminate the Digital Divide Advisory Committee Meeting. Snip:
Since inception, this program has invested circa $30 million in the digital lives of Illinois residents. All the way up and down this state, these funds have led to tens of thousands of people (page 254) getting trained in digital skills at Community Technology Centers.
If you believe in the power of technology to improve lives, if you think we should support the essential work of front-line trainers in this state, if you care about equity in opportunity for all residents of Illinois, this is something that matters to you.
Here’s an article from this month’s Broadband Communities magazine by Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford of Harvard University about Smart Chicago’s work with SWOP in collecting neighborhood-level building information for use in collaborative decision-making.
Here’s a snip:
SWOP, O’Neil’s team realized, could use this app to digitize its processes for tracking neglected properties. LocalData gave Smart Chicago a license to provide its software to SWOP – and made sure that SWOP would have technical support, unlimited hosted data and the ability to allow an unlimited number of app users.
Gone was the era of paper notes and sitting later at a desk, navigating multiple pieces of software. Now, SWOP members simply use their phones to take pictures of problem buildings, automatically associate those pictures with their geocoded locations and export the data in a form that can be forwarded to Chicago’s 311 system. When they see a dangerous building where dumping has occurred or windows have been broken, they can ag the place, answer all the questions that 311 needs to route the service request and know that this information is going in real time to the city.