Wireless connection for entire Urban Neighborhood Initiative studied

The Urban Neighborhood Initiative area.

Since talk of Google Fiber began in Kansas City, there has also been talk of the digital divide.

Now a new effort is being undertaken to see if its feasible to create wireless connectivity for a swatch of the urban core.

Arvest Bank is funding an engineering study to allow nonprofit Connecting for Good to look into bringing low-cost, high speed internet to the Urban Neighborhood Initiative area.

“The digital divide creates significant barriers for residents in the urban core trying to achieve educational and occupational success,” says Mark Larrabee, president and CEO of Arvest Bank-Kansas City, and UNI prosperity committee member, said in a press release.

Here’s more from the press release:

In the coming weeks, Connecting for Good will develop a plan that defines the scope of work, the process to implement a network, and a budget.

Connecting for Good is a nonprofit organization, bridging the digital divide–the gap between those who are able to benefit from computers and Internet resources and those who cannot, as well as the training necessary to use the technology effectively. As a wireless ISP, Connecting for Good provides low income families and nonprofit organizations with free and affordable in-home Internet access.

“Digital inclusion is one of the most important social justice issues of our day,” says Michael Liimatta, president and CEO of Connecting for Good. “In our digital society, the unconnected are a growing underclass. People without access to the Internet are unable to apply for jobs online, connect with family and friends, access virtual library shelves, gain information about medical and health issues, or participate in online education and shopping. Simply stated, they are shut out of the benefits of connectivity that most of us take for granted. This is tragic in light of all the resources that are available on the Internet that have the potential to help an under resourced family move toward a healthier, happier and more secure future.”

UNI is one of the KC Chamber’s Big 5 Ideas with a goal of revitalizing neighborhoods in the urban core.  One of UNI’s three areas of focus is prosperity, and key to prosperity is digital connectivity for UNI residents.

“Part of UNI’s goal is to leverage and support existing programs that address critical needs,” says Dianne Cleaver, executive director of UNI. “Connecting for Good has been a pioneer in providing a means to expand digital resources for residents and community groups in the urban core. I look forward to building on that relationship, with the backing of our friends at Arvest, as we work toward of goal of greater connectivity in our neighborhoods, thus alleviating social and economic barriers created by the digital divide.”


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