A $34.6 million investment in Arizona State University to help create reliable internet access and training for the region

September 29, 2022

Funding makes ASU home to the largest university-led digital ownership initiative in the country

Like food, clothing, and shelter, the Internet has become a basic need. Today, access is a file limiting factor To quality of life because it connects people to vital healthcare, learning experiences, and employment opportunities.

However, across Arizona, reliable access to high-speed broadband remains uneven. In Maricopa County, some neighborhoods report that up to 70% of residents still lack adequate internet performance needed to work remotely, download homework or stream.

Arizona State University is leading an effort to bridge this divide. Maricopa County Board of Supervisors recently They voted unanimously To provide Arizona State University and its collaborators $34.6 million through 2026 to enhance broadband, community support, equipment, and training across Maricopa County, which includes the Phoenix metro area.

This funding makes ASU home to the largest university-led digital ownership initiative in the country. ASU Enterprise TechnologyAnd the sun lane network and 501(c)(3) Digital Equity Institute He will lead efforts with hundreds of faculty, students, and staff to advance digital efficiency and distribute internet-connected devices to those in need.

“The idea of ​​providing broad access is an integral part of the ASU charter,” said Chris Howard, executive vice president and chief operating officer of ASU Public Enterprise. Our digital equity agreement with Maricopa County indicates that as a public institution, our commitment extends far beyond the physical locations of ASU.”

Marie Haddad, an undergraduate student at ASU, shared at ASU City Hall her vision of a future where the Internet is easily accessible to all: “In the ideal future, we provide training, tools, and resources online, making sure we are constantly available if they need help. and support.”

Partnership for Social Impact

It required rapid collaboration between government, education, society and industry to get to the point of funding. When the White House administration announced America’s rescue plana US$1.9 trillion economic stimulus package, broadband has been high on the national solutions agenda.

Seeing the opportunity and the need, a group of regional partners took to the action.

A large-scale working group gathered under the umbrella connectivePhoenix’s Greater Smart District Consortium and an initiative of Partnership for Economic Innovation. The group consisted of government officials, Maricopa County and a technical advisory team led by Arizona State University and the Digital Equity Institute.

Chris Camacho, President and CEO of Greater Phoenix Economic CouncilMember of the Task Force and Member of the Board of Directors of the Partnership for Economic Innovation.

The approximately $35 million in funding for Arizona State University comes through the US Rescue Plan package, granted by Maricopa County.

“Only through collaborative partnership and proactive leadership will we begin to address these structural barriers regionwide to ensure that the digital economy reaches all major Phoenix families,” said Bill Gates, president of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Moving forward, collaboration will remain at the center. ASU Enterprise Technology, Sun Corridor Network, and Digital Equity Institute will partner to connect community-centric institutions, such as schools, health clinics, and other neighborhood assets, and provide educational programs that support communities’ journeys from digital inequality to full participation.

Work is already underway to build a better connected community

Recently Broadband installation pilots With the Isaac School District in Phoenix, led by Arizona State University Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and Enterprise Technology, has already revealed positive effects from improving access at K-12. Now, the implications of this latest funding reach into every aspect of learning, working and thriving.

“The Digital Equity Institute is committed to taking a holistic approach to leveling the playing field,” said Erin Carr-Jordan, Managing Director of the Digital Equity Institute. “Through meaningful collaboration, we can amplify the voices of disadvantaged communities and provide people with access to the knowledge, skills, and support needed to participate fully in every aspect of society, democracy and the economy.”

Arizona State University is already analyzing data and preparing geographic maps as a basis for upcoming broadband installations.

“We have to know where the gaps in the service are, and that accurate level of data will help us scale to serve more of our communities,” said Lev Junek, chief information officer at Arizona State University. “We want to make sure that the resources dedicated to solving this pervasive systemic challenge are directed to where they are most needed.”

This Monday, October 3, marks the first Celebrating Digital Inclusion Summit in Arizonahosted by the Digital Equity Institute and ASU’s ShippingEDU – Free and open to all.

Gates, of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, will kick off the event by sharing the current and future state of digital stocks. Government officials, broadband experts, digital literacy champions, and other key groups will detail what society needs to know — and what comes next.

Written by Samantha Baker. For media inquiries, please contact Annie Davis, annie.davis.1@asu.edu.

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