Fiber City: Bridging the Digital Divide
Google and Kansas City hope their new "fiber city" will reach beyond the startup community to the younger generation.
With that in mind, an effort to connect schools, libraries, and community and public safety centers with the service is underway.
"The digital divide is like the economic divide. The wealthier can afford this high-speed fiber," said Ray Daniels, co-chair of the Mayors' Bi-State Innovations Team. "We want to make sure everybody has access. That means doing what Googlehas done, providing access for free."
Rachel Hack, Google's community manager, said the effort will mean many things to the community.
"It could mean tele-educational types of opportunities with students and schools thinking about connectivity at home in ways they don't yet have today," said Hack. "It would also involve students having access to devices at home and to digital literacy skills."
Daniels said itgives the chance for teachers to change what they're doing with the kids they're teaching and for those kids to get instant feedback during the teaching process.
"Students can have a real-time conversation with a student in China or a music performance with the Chicago Symphony," said Daniels. "It just opens up the world." [See also: What Are the Best Home Internet and TV Services?]
Synthia Payne, founder of CYBERJAMMER Network, hopes to inform people who aren't aware of the technology and its benefits. As the founder of a subscriber network for musicians, she aims to show musicians that they can use the technology to reach more people with their art.
"I hope to inspire more women and different cultures and people who think the technology is beyond them," said Payne.
Daniels said that education is an area that's going to evolve greatly as students, teachers, administrators and parents get used to the technology.
"There's great opportunity for the communities, and it's important to take advantage of it … [and explore] how to use this high speed fiber to enhance these two communities and the lives of the people that live here," Daniels said.
"It's up to us to get it done," he added.