Will Midtown neighborhoods contribute to helping the East Side get Google Fiber?

The latest Google Fiber map showing which neighborhoods have shown interest in getting the service and which have not. People concerned about the Digital Divide are making financial contributions to a website that will help the neighborhoods in yellow qualify for the service. The neighborhoods in green have already shown enough interest to ensure they will get the service.Last night, the Valentine Neighborhood Association agreed to make a $200 donation toward getting schools and libraries pre-qualified.

With just over a week before the deadline for pre-registration, folks concerned about the Google Fiber digital divide have a way to contribute to neighborhoods that aren’t yet qualified. On the civic crowdfunding platform neighbor.ly, the Social Media Club of Kansas City is encouraging people to make contributions so that all neighborhoods can meet the threshold for the service. So far, 78 backers have contributed $4,056. The project aims to raise $5,000.

As most people west of Troost know by now, Google Fiber is offering neighborhoods that show interest in its service a chance to pre-register for the fastest Internet service in the country. But members of neighborhoods (or fiberhoods, as Google designates smaller parts of neighborhoods) need to sign up and pay a $10 fee to show interest. Most of the Midtown neighborhoods have qualified, or gone “green,” meaning they are now shown in green on the Google Fiber map. But east of Troost, many people may not have Internet service or even computers, may not be able to pay for the service, or may not have a credit or debit card (a requirement for signing up online). Their neighborhoods are still yellow on the map, meaning they may not get the service that will be rolled out beginning next month.

Ever since Google announced it would wire Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas, people all across the city have warned that this could widen the “digital divide.” In the KC Star yesterday, Mary Sanchez had a commentary on the importance of the green versus yellow neighborhoods – both in technological advantage and in the perception of the have versus have-not neighborhoods.

In addition, schools and libraries will be hooked up to Google Fiber only if the neighborhoods around them get enough people pre-registered by September 9.

Any individual from the green neighborhoods, or any neighborhood association, can make a donation to the neighbor.ly Paint the Town Green campaign. As of today, the Kansas City neighborhoods that need the most contributions are: Marlborough, Center City, Ivanhoe, Blue Hills, 18th and Vine, and Key Coalition. Several neighborhoods in Kansas City, Kansas also need help.

Funds raised will be used to “turn neighborhoods green and continue to educate our neighborhoods about the value of connectivity. A portion of these funds may be used for prepaid debit cards (required to make the signups online) and to create promotional materials (required to raise awareness). We will work through schools, community organizations and our own volunteer network to sign up enough households to make the neighborhood (and its earmarked community institutions) eligible for fiber connections,” the website says.

Right now, the push is for getting all the neighborhoods pre-qualified by the deadline. After that, there will need to be another effort to try to convince people of the value of the service.

We’d like to hear from any Midtown neighborhoods or individuals who are contributing to this effort, or who have decided against doing so.

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