Bridging the digital divide: Solar-powered Wi-Fi stations in Islandview to receive key upgrades

What’s happening: A new campaign has launched to bolster community efforts to break the digital divide in Detroit’s Islandview neighborhood. There are currently two solar-powered public Wi-Fi and device charging stations in the community, though organizers there characterize these public assets as being underused. A new project could help change that.

“With this money, we can execute community projects that center on community needs and make visible efforts to reach toward one another to ensure no one in Islandview is left behind,” says Leon Hister.What’s planned: The Detroit Community Technology Project and their on-the-ground partners BLVD Harambee plan to activate the two sites with benches, tables, garbage and recycling bins, and shade to make the public Wi-Fi and device charging stations more user-friendly for area residents. Also planned is improved signage to better advertise the free solar-powered service, as well as a 10-year celebration plaque.

Who’s behind it: The Detroit Community Technology Project launched the Equitable Internet Initiative (EII) in 2016 to increase high-speed internet access for Detroiters that might not have it in their homes. BLVD Harambee is one of the EII’s founding community partners.

How they’ll do it: The Community Internet in Detroit project has been accepted into the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Public Spaces, Community Places placemaking initiative. Organizers have until Wednesday, Nov. 30, to raise $5,000 via a crowdfunding campaign hosted on the Michigan-based Patronicity platform. Should they prove successful, the MEDC will contribute a $5,000 matching grant to the project.

Why it’s important: “Being selected for the Public Spaces Community Places grant program is timely as Detroit rapidly develops,” says Detroit Community Technology Project Communications and Culture Manager Leon Hister. “With this money, we can execute community projects that center on community needs and make visible efforts to reach toward one another to ensure no one in Islandview is left behind. Someone is thinking about them and cares.”

Click HERE to keep up with the status of the Community Internet in Detroit project and crowdfunding campaign.

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.