San José to launch a People’s Network initiative to bridge the digital divide

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San José starts a new program on The People’s Network to bridge the digital gap and deliver innovative Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure to its residents. San José is the first City to join the fast-developing ecosystem and employ Helium’s blockchain-based incentive model to enhance internet access for over 1,300 low-income families.

The People’s Network was established in 2019 to democratize and decentralize connection so that everyone and everything has equal access to the Internet. Thanks to Helium’s blockchain-based economic model, the Network is making this vision a reality by enabling fair participation in the world of wireless, which has historically been centralized and controlled by a few carriers.

This idea is life-changing and relevant for the 95,000 or more San José residents who lack an internet connection, mainly since the digital divide has only grown throughout the worldwide epidemic. According to Pew Research 2021 research, the digital divide is closely related to wealth and causes challenges such as the “homework gap” for school-age children. Because so much of daily life has migrated online, eliminating digital inequalities has a considerable impact.

The City of San José, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, has long been a pioneer in leveraging innovation and new technology to tackle huge issues, and access equity is no exception. When the City of San José and the Helium team first met years ago, it was apparent that the City’s purpose and The People’s Network’s vision ideally suited the City’s purpose and The People’s Network’s vision.

Together we’re excited to share a new initiative, launched by San José today, that paves the way for equitable internet access to help bridge the digital divide, while also delivering on the promise of building a true smart city of the future.

During a six-month trial phase, the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation (MOTI) will distribute Helium-compatible Hotspots to volunteer citizens and small businesses around San José. The Hotspots, acquired by the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), will help extend The People’s Network and promote the expansion of local IoT infrastructure.

Once linked, the Hotspots mine HNT using the energy equivalent of an LED light bulb and send less than two gigabytes of data each month. MOTI will subsequently utilize the HNT incentives to give low-income homes broadband internet access.

The City utilizes its San José Digital Inclusion Fund with 21 community-based organization partners to select families, educate them on the pilot program, and onboard them to qualify and receive benefits.

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