San Francisco’s streets may be full of human excrement and littered with drug addicts’ used syringes, but by God, its low-income citizens can now get free internet service. They even won an award for it.
Mayor London N. Breed announced the San Francisco Department of Technology’s Fiber to Housing program just picked up a prestigious national award for its internet service plan for low-income San Franciscans.
The program, called “Closing the Digital Divide – Fiber to Housing,” is a collaboration between the Department of Technology, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and the local Internet Service Provider, Monkeybrains. The program works to eliminate the digital divide in San Francisco by bringing free high-speed internet to residents living in affordable housing.
“Providing low-income families with access to high-speed internet is about equity and ensuring every family in our city has access to the resources they need to pay their bills, connect with city services, or do their homework,” said Mayor Breed. “We believe that every person deserves an opportunity to thrive, and the Department of Technology’s Fiber to Housing program helps achieve that goal by closing the digital divide and providing fast and reliable internet access.”
“I am proud of the city agencies and their collaborative work to bringing quality internet access for public housing residents,” said City Administrator Kelly. “As we continue to build public housing units and our infrastructure, we must also look at our digital infrastructure through an equitable lens.”
The city walked off with a prestigious CIO 100 Award. Now, this may be an award that ordinary people have never heard of, but it’s a biggie. Previous CIO 100 award winners include corporations such as Amazon and The Walt Disney Co.
City officials were justifiably proud of the achievement:
City Chief Information Officer and Executive Director of the Department of Technology Linda Gurull said, “It’s truly an honor to receive this recognition for our Fiber to Housing project.” S“Bridging the divides in internet access and digital literacy is crucial to achieving San Francisco’s goal of digital equity,” she continued, “and I’m thrilled to accept this award on behalf of the city family.”
San Francisco is one of the world’s richest cities and home to many of the world’s largest high tech corporations. Nevertheless, city fathers (and mothers) say a digital divide still plagues the city.
Oddly enough, they use the following statistics to show how deep the divide is, but we look at them and say it shows just the opposite:
- Only about 12% residents lack high-speed home internet service.
- Only 14% of families in public school lack a computer connected to the internet at home.
- Only 14% of city residents lack basic digital literacy.
Most cities would be proud of statistics like those, but city leaders believe they should be higher in a city called home by so many high tech titans.
What does the future hold for low-income residents of the City by the Bay? Here’s how the city’s website describes its vision for the future:
The Fiber to Housing program started in 2018 and provides free, high-speed internet to low income residents by leveraging existing municipal fiber resources, staff expertise and private sector partnerships. In the first phase of the project, City staff connected over 1,500 low-income families with long-term sustainable internet access – at no cost to users. The project’s second phase is currently underway and will provide internet to another 1,600 units by June 2020. The completed project will result in a service benefit of approximately $400 million over 20 years.