Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Bridging the Digital Divide

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Bridging the Digital Divide

Article excerpt

A Tale of Two Cities

Technology Goes Home in Boston

In Boston (pop. 555,000), Mayor Thomas Menino has led several city initiatives designed to improve access to technology by all residents.

"Technology Goes Home" is a program that is providing free technology training, computers, modems, printers and Internet access to 1,000 low income families. The Boston Digital Bridge Foundation has raised $2.7 million to provide ongoing funding for local technology initiatives.

Through a partnership with 3Com, the city launched a "Kids Compute 2001" effort and became the first major urban school system in the country to become fully wired to the Internet. The city also has lowered the computer to student ration from 1 computer for every 63 students to 1 computer for every 7 students in the past four years.

Through business partners, foundations, and government grants, the city has raised significant funds for technology investments in schools, community centers, and teacher training.

Boston is now partnering with HarvardNet to set up a Metropolitan Exchange Point (MXP) for the city of Boston, the first "peering point" in the northeast. Located in the basement of city halt, the MPX will provide a faster, local gateway to the Internet, ensure that local Internet traffic stays local, give Internet Service Providers a cost-effective way to share Internet access and conduits, and give the city a marketing advantage in attracting high-tech firms. In return for its financial investment in developing the MXP, Boston will receive 100 megabytes of Internet capacity at no cost for use in city departments, libraries, community centers, and schools. The total annual value of the expanded service to the city is $600,000. Cisco Systems donated a Catalyst 3500 scalable Gigabit Ethernet switch to the Boston MPX. …

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