U.S. Conference of Mayors Honors Chicago Smart Communities
During its 79th Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) recognized the joint effort by Sprint and Chicago to bring broadband access to underserved communities throughout the city. In a brief ceremony, the USCM awarded the City of Chicago and Sprint Corporation the "Excellence in Innovation" award for the City of Chicago's Smart Comunities Initiative.
The Mayors Business Council established the awards to encourage businesses and cities to work together to improve local communities. An independent panel of judges was appointed by the Conference of Mayors to review individual submissions. Selections were made based on a set of criteria including: improvement in delivery of services, replicability, sustainability, cost-savings, creativity of approach, benefits to both public and private partners, economic and business benefits, and measurable results.
"When you talk about the Digital Divide, you're talking about something that's real and very hard to overcome", said Dan Gillison, Sprints national public sector director. "Unless these residents are given a helping hand to bridge that divide, they'll fall farther and farther behind as this country becomes more technologically advanced. Sprint and the City of Chicago are giving them that helping hand".
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley‘s Smart Communities Program has created a unique partnership that drives broadband adoption by building on the strengths of government, community organizations and the private sector.
The City of Chicago – with support from the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program – provides funding for computers and other hardware and software tools, eliminating some of the costliest barriers to home internet use.
Additionally, the community development organization LISC/Chicago and its partners deliver targeted, culturally appropriate digital skills training programs, grassroots outreach and hyper-local content.
In further support of the initiative, Sprint Nextel will offer free or low-cost wireless broadband services to avoid financial barriers faced by vulnerable families.
The pilot partnership program has three phases:
In Phase One – Nearly 60 youths from five underserved Chicago neighborhoods participated in this year‘s inaugural Digital Youth Summer Jobs program. Sprint awarded the participants Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go aircards with free service, exposing the students to new broadband technology.
In Phase Two – More than 1,200 residents at six Family Net Centers and 100 small businesses will receive netbook computers loaded with links to local online content with Sprint Nextel offering both groups reduced-price 3G and 4G wireless broadband services
In Phase Three – Nearly 270,000 Smart Communities residents will benefit through the Sprint Nextel partnership and will have access to new affordable broadband options.
With the City of Chicago and its partners assuming the ?customer acquisition? costs, Sprint Nextel is able to offer its services at the lower prices required to connect with a previously unseen, underserved market of residents and businesses.
Learn more about this award winning program at http://www.usmayors.org/buscouncil/