We need better infrastructure to bridge urban digital divide

Originally posted on Gigaom:

City bridgeThe broadband stimulus program committed nearly $500 million to narrow the digital divide through broadband adoption campaigns and building computing centers in low-income areas. After distributing much of this money in 2011, these investments should start bearing fruit. But will they?

Their success faces two challenges: a lack of sufficient broadband infrastructure in some low-income areas and broadband adoption efforts that miss the mark because policymakers don’t understand what leads to success. Fortunately, these issues can be addressed. Once we accept that success depends on how we spend that stimulus funding and what stakeholders expect (hope) to achieve.

A recent Forbes article illustrates the challenge we have when well-intentioned people don’t fully understand a particular market or that market’s broadband needs. Back in December, Forbes’ columnist Gene Marks told the world how he’d handle life and technology “If I Was a Poor Black Kid.” Quite a national backlash…

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