Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his administration continue to make great strides in making Chicago the next great digital city. However, as many GovLoopers know: no amount of tech will do us any good for the people across the digital divide.
Yesterday, Mayor Emanuel announced a deal with Comcast to provide 330,000 low income familes cheap access to high speed internet and a subsidized computer program to provide refurbished computers for about $150. The deal is the first in the nation and should be up in running by the time school starts.
Basicly, if a Chicago Public School student is on the free lunch program, then they qaulify for an "internet essisentials" package from Comcast. Normally, people pay $48 a month for high speed here in Chicago, but those under the program would get it for $10/month with no fees. And it's not just for a year, they'll be eligible for the program for as long as the kids are in school. That's quite a big committment from Comcast.
While it won't solve the digital divide overnight (Chicago's divide stands right now at 40%), it will go a long way to bridging the gap in an underserved population. High speed Internet and cheap computers mean that students and their families will have access to everything the web has to offer.