Mission: San Francisco Tech Connect, a program of the city’s Department of Telecommunications and Information Services, aims to promote digital inclusion by ensuring affordable Internet access, hardware, training and relevant local content to all by providing all residents with access and comprehensive tools. Low-income and under served citizens will be able to practically and successfully use the Internet in their daily lives.
Approach: Beginning in early 2005, a member team partnered with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office to develop a strategy for digital inclusion in parallel with the city’s efforts to provide wireless Internet access through the Tech Connect project.
The strategy had three parts. Members would help to develop high-profile outreach events to demonstrate the benefits of a broadband wireless network to the community. Full Circle Fund also assisted in developing a long-term strategy for implementing and sustaining a best-in-class community wireless system from a technical and business standpoint. Finally Members would work with San Francisco Tech Connect to create a “brain trust,” an impartial, interdisciplinary group of experts to advise the city on this complex project.
Full Circle Fund’s team of Members worked closely with Tech Connect to develop what is now the Mayor’s Tech Connect Task Force by organizing a Wireless Expert Council to assist the project in developing its Request for Proposal.
Tech Connect was able to execute, with Members’ help, a pilot laptop project in the Bayview/Hunters Point neighborhood, including the sale of 75 low-cost wifi-enabled laptops and the development of multilingual training sessions and instructional materials. This pilot was the first Wi-Fi development in public housing in the U.S.
The partnership allowed for SF Tech Connect to gather and report the first hard data on the digital divide in San Francisco by conducting a comprehensive survey of over 500 residents in the Bayview/Hunters Point district.
Members worked with Tech Connect to developed a strategic plan for the Mayor’s Office to scale Tech Connect initiative to include other events and additional communities in the future.