Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Located on the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico, Loíza is one of the most culturally rich municipalities on the island. Known as the “Capital of Traditions,” the area gave birth to many African-influenced traditions that are now synonymous with Puerto Rican culture. As home to the largest population of Black residents on the island, Loíza has a rich cultural heritage that is threatened by high unemployment, extreme poverty, and violence. In fact, Loíza’s unemployment rate is triple the national average, and nearly half of all residents live below the poverty line.
To deliver De Puente A Puente (From Bridge to Bridge), Libraries Without Borders US (LWB US)—along with project partners Link Puerto Rico (Link PR), the Municipality of Loíza, Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC), Cultura Activa, PAYE (Piñones Aprende Y Emprende), and other local organizations and community leaders—is providing broadband service in three neighborhoods of Loíza. In each of these neighborhoods—Sector La 23 y Las Gardenias, Piñones, and Tocones—LWB US is outfitting community centers with Wi-Fi using 4G and 5G cellular hotspots to connect residents directly to digital tools as well as health and digital literacy training.
Libraries Without Borders US galvanizes, engages, and empowers the local community in Puerto Rico. By organizing events that enable residents of all ages to participate, such as designated days to clean up and paint their community centers, LWB US ensures that residents are integral to revitalization efforts. As a result of this collaboration, the project expects to provide 90 households with reliable broadband access by March 2022. Using a “train the trainer” model, the project will also equip community leaders with digital skills and training designed to expand their reach and amplify their ability to promote health and well-being across Loíza.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic, relentless hurricanes, and other natural disasters exacerbated internet connectivity issues, De Puente a Puente leverages National Science Foundation (NSF) support to address protracted connectivity challenges in Loíza. Through this pilot, the team will gain valuable insights and data that will allow them to design long-term, sustainable broadband solutions for Loíza residents.
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US Ignite is accelerating the smart community movement – and creating value for an entire ecosystem – by guiding communities into the connected future, creating a path for private sector growth, and advancing technology research that’s at the heart of smart city development. Project OVERCOME is delivering broadband services to the underserved and unserved populations in seven communities. The project is led by US Ignite with financial support from the National Science Foundation and Schmidt Futures.
The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people in the U.S. have access to competitive, High-Performance Broadband regardless of where they live or who they are. We believe communication policy – rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity – has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities.
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