The City of Madison is committed to strengthening neighborhoods and bridging the Digital Divide.
Citizen access to the internet has become a critical component of job hunting; educational needs; transacting household business; utilizing library resources; and communicating with family, neighbors and government. The lack of consistent internet access for underserved communities threatens to leave the children of those families without the necessary skills to compete in the workforce after high school and further widens the achievement gap. Underserved communities, unable to afford internet service, are at a distinct disadvantage to those who can afford high-speed internet service when applying for work, communicating with government and doing other daily Internet-related tasks. Madison’s strategy to bridge the digital divide includes the following three critical areas:
Low-cost Internet Service
Coming soon - City of Madison Fiber-optic internet
In 2015, the City released an RFP looking for proposals to provide high-speed broadband service to four low-income areas of Madison. ResTech Services, a local provider of internet, television and telephone services to multi-dwelling units in the Madison metropolitan area, was awarded the contract. ResTech will extend fiber optic service to these four neighborhoods, from the city-owned MUFN fiber, and install electronics in the residences that will be able to provide up to 300Mbps internet service. The basic plan will be for 10Mbps internet service (upstream and downstream) and cost subscribers $9.99 per month. Additionally, optional television and telephone services will be available. Construction of the fiber optic network and installation of network electronics will be completed by the end of 2016. Approximately 1050 families will be eligible for the service. View the four neighborhoods, as well as all available services.
The City has contracted with DANEnet to coordinate educational services for communities in the four service areas. DANEnet’s education services scope of work includes the following:
- Work with the community partners and library to schedule basic technology education and consumer safety workshops at least 6 workshops per neighborhood per year.
- Work with the community partner to create a schedule that works for the space and the target community.
- Offer the workshops in English, Hmong and Spanish based on neighborhood and community partner.
- The curriculum will vary depending on the needs of the students in order to strive towards relevance but will cover basic computer skills, consumer safety, internet and email, and basic office software.
- Curriculum for the classes should be similar to classes offered on digitallearn.org, the community technology network and the Technology Literacy Collaborative.
- Drop in support will be provided for twelve hours in each neighborhood.
- Any community residents, whether or not they are in the class, will be invited and can get their technology questions answered.
- This time will include one-on-one technology tutoring and will be an opportunity for community members to bring their devices to an expert for assistance and fixing.
- This will be a time to help set up email accounts, learn about social media, do a resume, get a digital photo off a device and get personal computing devices fixed.
- DANEnet will provide staff and coordinate community volunteers for the device Fix IT clinics and drop in support.
- Up to six hours at each location getting the computers operational and functional for the workshops and for the broader community to use.
- Remove temporary internet files and other temp files from PC using CleanUp! or a comparable utility.
- Scan for malware using MBAM or a comparable utility.
- Perform a virus scan using ESET or a comparable utility.
- Perform hardware diagnostics.
Free or Low-cost Refurbished Computers
The City is collaborating with Cascade Asset Management, a local company that provides an environmentally responsible solution for refurbishing/recycling electronic equipment, to provide free or low-cost computers to residents of the service areas. Cascade is working with corporate donors in the Madison area to provide this equipment and the City of Madison is donating its retired laptops/desktop computers. DANEnet will coordinate refurbishment and distribution of computing devices to residents with Cascade Asset Management. The computers will come equipped with a mouse, keyboard, and display. The Windows operating system will be installed on the computers along with office productivity software (word processor and spreadsheet) anti-virus software, an internet browser and other software as DANEnet recommends.Cascade Asset Management