December 23, 2009 – Nearly half a year after designating four low-income Chicago neighborhoods as “digital excellence demonstration communities,” Chicago Mayor Richard Daley on Thursday announced the addition of a fifth community, as well as plans for use of federal broadband stimulus monies to bring the neighborhoods up to digital speeds.
“Many Chicagoans haven’t embraced broadband and digital technology because they see it as too hard or too expensive,” Daley said at a press conference. “These tough economic times demand that we roll up our sleeves and re-double our efforts to address the challenge of the digital divide head-on.”
Among using BTOP grants to shore up technology in schools, Daley wants to create community wireless networks based out of community computing centers, schools and libraries. Chicago has applied for over $110 million in Broadand Technology Opportunities Program grants.
Daley has long held community wireless as a goal of his, but said that he saw it die at the hands of private internet providers in fear of competition.