January 19, 2009 By News Report
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced the expansion of the city's "Network of Community Networks" free Wi-Fi network to residents of the Sunnydale housing development. Outside Sunnydale's new technology lab, the mayor highlighted the city's progress expanding free wireless Internet access throughout San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) developments and other affordable housing sites.
"To improve our economy, it is critical that we bridge the digital divide," said Newsom. "The launch of this free Wi-Fi network at the Sunnydale housing development is another step forward in our goal of providing free Internet access to all San Franciscans."
Over the past year the Department of Technology (DT) has created and coordinated the development of free wireless networks covering 2,121 units at SFHA developments and at over 1,200 units at non-profit sites. At the Sunnydale housing development, the city's Communities of Opportunity (COO) teamed with the technology nonprofit, One Economy, to establish the free network.
"At One Economy, we believe quality information is central to quality of life," said Dave McConnell, senior vice president at One Economy. "We are proud to be part of this effort to use broadband to connect hundreds of families with the tools they need to improve their lives."
The free Wi-Fi network at Sunnydale was funded through the AT&T Foundation.
"AT&T is a strong proponent of broadband infrastructure as a critical component of our 21st century California economy," Ken McNeely, president of AT&T California. "We remain committed to doing our part to make affordable broadband even more widely available, so we're pleased to be able to partner with One Economy and the City of San Francisco on this important program in Sunnydale."
In addition to free Internet access, DT has engaged partners to ensure that residents served by the city's free Wi-Fi network, especially low-income and disadvantaged residents have access to complimentary training, low cost computers and support.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.