This week in Philadelphia, just ahead of Philly Tech Week, we helped introduce a new tool to the public. It aggregates locations across the city that provide access to the Internet.
The tool, called Connect Philly, helps people find free, or affordable, online access and also computer training opportunities. It allows residents to send their address via text message to 215.240.7296 and find the closest available Internet access point.
In a city, where according to a 2008 report, 40% of households lack broadband access, finding a connection is critical to promoting informed and engaged communities.
I had the pleasure of kicking off yesterday's launch with Technically Philly, J-LAB, the city of Philadelphia, KEYSPOT and the Free Library of Philadelphia in City Hall’s Conversation Hall. Brian James Kirk, co-founder of Technically Philly, demonstrated the website and SMS text application. Chris Wink, co-founder of Technically Philly, moderated a great panel discussion on the progress that we’ve made in Philadelphia since the 2008 report as well as the challenges ahead. The panel featured Siobhan Reardon, president and director of the Free Library of Philadelphia, Brigitte Daniel, executive vice president, Wilco Electronic Systems, Charles Kaylor, visiting assistant professor in the department of geography at Temple University, Bryan Mercer of Media Mobilizing Project and Bret Perkins, V.P. government relations, Comcast.