Friday, October 2, 2009

Knight Commission: Free Information "As Vital as Safe Streets"; Public Space Design Media Needed

A tweet today about the need to eliminate the "digital divide" (37% of Americans still do not have internet access at home!) by implementing national free broadband service, from urbandata:

Knight: Free information flow "as vital to healthy communities as safe streets" #gov20 @seeclickfix #gov20 #knightcomm

More on the Knight Commission report, from the AP coverage -- and more transportation parallels:

The nation needs to give the same urgency to making sure all Americans have broadband access as the Eisenhower administration did in building an interstate highway system a half-century ago, a report released Friday concluded... ''You have to have access in order to be socially first class, economically first class and politically first class,'' said Alberto Ibarguen, former Miami Herald publisher and president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation..

Retweet this and support the call for information equity... and safe streets, too. Given new mashup online 311 websites like SeeClickFix, the two are now closely related. In fact, one of the report's 15 specific recommendations is to create new media that supports public space design.

Update: SeeClickFix provides a link to the report via Twitter:

RT @seeclickfix #knightcomm recs: new media for com'ty info & public space design, transparent gov eg @mashable @govwiki


Ian Turner said...

This is not an issue that you can solve just by spending money. What percentage of household members are computer-literate and have an actual desire to gain internet access? Of those who do not have a computer at home, how many use the internet at work or at a local library? And finally, is there substantial evidence that money spent this way would have a better effect than on, say, healthcare for the uninsured?

Moderator said...

Good questions -- the report attempts to answer them. I agree that this isn't the most important issue in the U.S. but also think it's not necessarily a zero-sum game and is more of a policy issue on what types of services (e.g., clean water, good schools...) that all citizens should have access to: both health insurance and information are critical to the functioning of society and the inequities are very costly.

To me, it seems hard to overestimate the impact that cost has on families' ability to gain tech access. A lot of people have trouble just paying for housing and heat, so internet access is one of the first things to go - which can limit access to jobs, community, etc.