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Gig Bits: Global roundtable Tuesday, digital divide conversation continues

A recent roundtable discussion on KCUR’s KC Currents was part of the ongoing conversation about bridging the digital divide in Kansas City. 

With ample Google Fiber news — like last week’s announcement of the order that Kansas City’s 180 fiberhoods will receive service — coming straight from the source in recent weeks, it has been some time since we checked on the ad hoc efforts surrounding the arrival of Google‘s ultra high-speed internet service in Kansas City.

But that dearth of coverage has not been for any lack of activity on the part of the people, companies and organizations orchestrating efforts. So, without further ado, let’s get back into the swing of Gig Bit things with a quick look of some of the recent Fiber-related stories of interest.

A global conversation on big data, open government

The Gigabit City Summit, a global dialogue on smart and connected cities, will host its third Global Rountable from 7-9 a.m. on Tuesday. Co-chaired by Jay Nath, the chief innovation officer for the City of San Francisco, and Nigel Jacob, from Boston’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, the virtual meeting will cover topics including open government and big data. 

The meeting’s agenda calls for discussion of the challenges and opportunities of adopting open innovation principles to solve public sector problems. Public officials with an interest in information and technology, and all people with an interest in the Gigabit City Summit, are invited to join via WebEx.

Connecting for Good bridging digital divide

The issue of a widening gap between between the digital haves and have-nots in the Kansas City area has been a big part of the Fiber-focused conversation from early on, and in recent weeks the “digital divide” has remained a prominent part of the discussion.

Numerous people and organizations have worked to keep residents of Kansas City’s poorer neighborhoods from falling further behind those in the city’s more affluent pockets, with efforts like Connecting for Good and Give Us A Gig and countless neighborhood groups leading the way.

Michael Liimatta (left), the co-founder of Connecting for Good, took part in a discussion about the digital divide that aired earlier this month on KCUR public radio’s KC Currents. Hosted by KCUR’s Susan Wilson, the 25-minute roundtable discussion also featured Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner of the Kansas City Public Library and Donovan Mouton, a local real estate developer.

A sampling of Liimatta’s contributions to that conversation:

“I think that the problem we have in this city is what I would call digital black holes. If you look along State Line and some of the more affluent areas, I mean people are living what I would call a digital lifestyle…When we talk about Google Fiber being a hundred times faster than what’s available now, I’m afraid that unless a lot of things happen proactively, the digital divide is going to be a hundred times bigger. And that disparity between the ‘haves and have nots’ is going to be worse. I really equate connectivity with opportunity.”

You can find to the show in its entirety at kcur.com.

Give Us a Gig taps Neighbor.ly  

Give Us a Gig, an education, engagement and advocacy effort born out of Social Media Club KC, tapped Kansas City-based civic crowdfunding platform Neighbor.ly in its push to bridge the digital divide.

Give Us a Gig raised $11,136 from 111 backers through a Neighbor.ly campaign, called Paint the Town Green, aimed at helping ensure a handful of Kansas City communities most in need met their pre-registration threshold for Google Fiber connection. SMCKC president Aaron Deacon said funds raised through Paint the Town Green led directly to 800-1,000 pre-registrations and that the drive inspired numerous other similar efforts.

But Deacon (left) said in a phone call Thursday there’s still much work to be done.

“Right now nothing has actually been accomplished other than people are now eligible for either Gigabit internet or a really good deal on fast internet,” he said.

As Give Us a Gig and other efforts aimed at reducing the disparity between the city’s digital haves and have-nots move forward, Deacon said, the focus will be on three main areas: hardware, access and education. 

“I think ideally it is a sort of holistic way of dealing with those things,” he said. “I have some ideas of what it might look like but nothing definite yet.”

OneLouder ponies up prize money

OneLouder, a Kansas City-based company that makes mobile, social apps, recently won $10,000, to be donated to the charity of its choice, for winning its division of the nationwide Social Madness contest put on by the American City Business Journals.

OneLouder gave the prize money to Connecting for Good. The company shed light on that decision in a Sept. 12 blog post, and OneLouder president Evan Conway explained it further:

“There are great opportunities on the horizon for Kansas City with Google Fiber and other innovative tech initiatives,” Conway said in a release about the donation. “Connecting for Good is doing fantastic work to give everyone in Kansas City the opportunity to be a part of our technological advancement, regardless of income, and we are fortunate to be able to help support their cause.”

 

Credits: Photo from kcur.org.. Photo of Deacon from linkedin.com. Photo of Liimatta from connectingforgood.org.


Gig Bits is an occasional feature that provides a rundown of the latest newsworthy nuggets related to the Google Fiber project in the Kansas City area.