An expanded wireless network will provide Internet service to large parts of downtown
Newberry said the network will help bridge the digital divide by providing broadband access in underserved areas, particularly in the East End of downtown and
A $550,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and approximately $1.1 million in state and federal public safety grants to the city and to the Sheriff’s Office will be used to establish the network, which is expected to be operational this summer.
Newberry compared access to the broadband information superhighway to the establishment of the interstate highway system.
“When the interstates came into communities in the 1950s and 60s they had a profound impact, supporting economic development and improving citizens’ access to much of the country,” Newberry said. “The same is true for the impact of broadband, the information superhighway. It will give businesses a tool that is essential to successfully compete in the global marketplace and it will give many citizens a tool that is essential to successfully compete in the classroom and in the workforce.”
The original network, which is being reactivated as part of the expansion project, served the downtown business district. The new network will add the underserved areas in the East End and
“Knight Foundation believes that access to information is a core community need, as essential as good schools, safe streets and clean air,” said Jorge A. Martinez, Knight Foundation's director of information systems. Today, broadband is essential for leading an informed, engaged life, allowing parents to connect with teachers, and residents to apply on-line for jobs and seek out healthcare and civic information, Martinez said. A blue-ribbon report by the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy recently found that American democracy is being undermined by unequal access to information.
The Knight Foundation grant will be provided to the Blue Grass Community Foundation, which will serve as the nonprofit partner for the project and help the city engage the community in the work. The
Work on the project began last spring when a group of community leaders, including representatives of Knight Foundation, the University, public safety, the state and the city created the Lexington Broadband Coalition with the goal of supporting public safety and expanding broadband access in underserved areas.
The project will be jointly administered by a public-private partnership that includes the city, the state, the
“This grant allows us to play a role in positioning the community to take advantage of the broadband network – to help inform and educate about applications and keep the lines of communication open regarding progress and opportunities,” said Lisa Adkins, chief executive officer of the Blue Grass Community Foundation. “And it ties in directly with the
Newberry said he will call on business and civic leaders to help develop a strategy to launch the network this summer and plan a public awareness campaign.
“The opportunities the network presents to
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote community engagement and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.
About the Blue Grass Community Foundation
The Blue Grass Community Foundation is a non-profit, community corporation created by and for the people of Central, South Eastern and much of
Susan Straub, Blue Grass Community Foundation, Office: 859-258-3111, Cell: 859-576-2564
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.