Through a series of webinars, the foundation will bring together communities interested in developing municipal wi-fi systems.
We believe a Knight community should be a connected community, in every sense of the word. Our role is to encourage those connections wherever and however we can. That’s why we are reaching out to the 26 communities we support – what we call Knight communities – to help them as they develop technologies that can potentially transform the way people live and work.
Many Knight communities are already well on their way toward developing municipal wi-fi or broadband systems. Others are thinking about it. Our hope is that we can help these communities share the information they need to create systems that are affordable, accessible and useful.
Through our webinar series, we hope to connect Knight communities, open doors and encourage discussion among community stakeholders with their peers, so they can learn and build upon their experiences.
Here are answers to some of your questions:
What is wi-fi?
Wi-fi stands for wireless fidelity. It is a set of protocols that allow computers to communicate wirelessly. A basic wi-fi set up is a box (called an access point), connected to the Internet via a DSL or cable modem, which transmits to any wi-fi enabled computer within a certain radius.
Why is Knight Foundation supporting wi-fi development in its communities?
Knight Foundation is interested in any technology that will benefit our communities or programs. Wi-fi is a potentially transformative technology. Many of our communities are looking for some sort of guidance; others could be the guides. We can help connect them.
Our goal, as a national foundation with local roots, is to bring together and harness the power of our communities spread across America.
Is Knight Foundation investing in wi-fi systems in its communities?
No. We are acting as a convener and connector for interested parties in Knight communities.
Is Knight Foundation an advocate for wi-fi technology?
Knight is neutral and agnostic as to platform. We are advocating for a system that leaves room for growth and the advent of new technologies. We strive to help our communities select the best possible system: one that is affordable, accessible and useful to the citizens of Knight communities.
Is Knight Foundation promoting the idea that local governments install and manage these systems, and compete against the private sector?
No. It is up to each community to select a business model that best fits its needs based on the local economic and political environment. This includes allowing bidding by either a single vendor or a consortium of vendors, or creating a collaboration between government and the private sector. Participation in the webinars will expose communities to the various different models being tried around the country.
What is Knight offering to do for the communities it supports?
We are convening key stakeholders in our communities and bringing them together. We are also using our resources as a national foundation to bring resources with extensive expertise in the field. These include Intel and One Economy. Intel will offer its technological expertise for free at the webinars; it has no financial stake in which provider(s) is chosen. One Economy, a nonprofit group that works to bring Internet access to low-income families and neighborhoods, can help communities develop ways to make wi-fi systems accessible and vital for everyone.
We will also bring in to the webinars experts who can discuss the legal challenges being faced by communities and offer strategies for dealing with them. And we will attempt to leverage the fact that we have 26 communities to try to negotiate better deals for our those that wish to engage Intel, One Economy or any of the technology providers in their communities after the webinars.
How will Knight Foundation bring its communities together?
Our initial strategy will be to convene our communities electronically through a series of webinars. We currently plan three separate two-hour webinars, so those interested in wi-fi development from all Knight communities can participate from wherever they are.
After the initial webinars, we will look to bring other resources to those communities that are ready, willing and able to pursue municipal wi-fi.
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.