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CI Lab and ATALM Receive IMLS Grant

By Broadband, Digital Equity, Digital Inclusion, ResearchNo Comments

IMLS LogoWe are incredibly honored and excited to announce that our CI Lab at Simmons University has received a two-year grant (award #LG-250043-OLS-21) from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to work with the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums.

Here is the description that is available on the IMLS website:

“Simmons University, together with the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums, will examine how a participatory community informatics approach, guided by Indigenous ways of knowing about technology and an affirmation of tribal sovereignty, can support the digital inclusion and broadband infrastructure needs and aspirations of tribal libraries. The research team will work with tribal libraries to co-design the following: an update to the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums’ 2014 report, ‘Digital Inclusion in Native Communities: The Role of Tribal Libraries’; a Digital Inclusion Lab ‘how-to’ guide for Tribal libraries; and a final report with findings from the research. The project also will gather broadband measurement data to inform federal information policies aimed at improving digital inclusion and broadband infrastructure in Tribal libraries.”

 

Prato

CIRN Virtual Conference Call 2021

By CFP, Conference, Digital Equity, Digital Inclusion, EventsNo Comments

CIRNCommunities, Technology, and This Moment 2021  

Virtual Conference | 8 – 12 November 2021
https://sites.google.com/view/cirn2021/
Call for Papers is now Open. Ends 30 June

Please see the website for more information on categories of papers refereeing process, conference committee, costs, conference publication and The Journal of Community Informatics, and how to submit an abstract.

The theme of the 2021 conference, “Communities, Technology, and This Moment” aims to bring together the rich knowledge, experience, and practice of Community Informatics, Community Archives, and Development Informatics with a focus on data justice, digital equity, and community informatics response to this moment in history. The 2021 CIRN conference will provide a virtual space to explore how researchers and practitioners ethically collect information, including what happens when community information is intentionally left uncollected, and how information systems can be designed in harmony with communities.

This year the CIRN conference will be online, and we propose a series of virtual events consisting of keynotes, presentations, and discussions. We hope that this virtual event covers a wide range of themes that reflect the richness and diversity of the fields of Community Informatics, Community Archives, and Development Informatics. #virtualCIRN. As an outcome, there will be conference proceedings, and selected papers will be published in a special issue of the Journal of Community Informatics in 2022. We also intend, as soon as it is possible to meet physically, to organise a follow up event in Prato Italy at the Monash University Centre.

We call for contributions for the following themes, that could be individual or multiple virtual sessions, depending on the response. Sessions will be offered at a range of times in support of participants from different time zones.

Themes

The conflict or tensions between the individual and collective use of ICT and the implications for design and security issues.

  • What are individual and community rights, responsibilities, and responses to the age of data breaches, manipulation, and social, health, environmental and other crises?
  • Who is left behind from the decision-making processes related to ICTs and information practices and uses?

Data justice and digital equity in the age of COVID.

  • What have the past two years (or more) shown us? How can communities have influence upon policy, design, and practice;
  • What will remain of privacy and work-life balance after the last two years of “smart” working? How can we ensure the rights of the digital workforce?
  • How does the pandemic affect different communities differently? Which existent social divisions might be intensified by measures such as lock-downs and social distancing? How can community informatics support people not only to survive but to live and thrive in a time full of uncertainties?

Action, agency and technology: Participatory design at this time.

The (new/emerging) relationship between face-to-face and action at a (mediated) distance.

  • Has the virtual replaced face-to-face and for what? Has much of our existence in fact become centered around virtual transactions? What has been strengthened? What has been weakened?
  • What happens when people are forced to interact through particular platforms, and the effects on unimpeded communication? What about surveillance?
  • The future of hybrid interactions where some are online, some in person. What are the advantages/disadvantages to hybrid setups, who is marginalized, who is enabled or disabled?

Religion, faith, belief.

  • What is the place of religion, faith and belief in the current digital area in the life of communities?
  • How do we deal with what can be  materially and socially damaging beliefs,  fake news, conspiracy theories and so on?

Environmental informatics.

  • Significant environmental actions and decisions are now made at different levels through generating environmental and ecological data and this continues in the COVID-19 era.
  • This is particularly important in the international development context, but in developing countries as well  What is the relationship with the community informatics agenda?

Can there be a community informatics response to this moment in history?

  • Is it possible to even think theoretically about this moment? Have all the previous paradigms fallen apart?
  • What has been the Community Informatics response to date?’

Sponsors: Monash University and Simmons University.

 

CBSN

IN THE NEWS: Dr. Rhinesmith Appears on CBSN

By Broadband, Digital Equity, Digital InclusionNo Comments
CI Lab Director, Dr. Colin Rhinesmith joined CBS News political contributor and BluePrint Strategy founder Antjuan Seawright to talk with CBSN’s Lana Zak about the necessity of affordable internet access and President Biden’s infrastructure plan.

For more on the “Homework Gap,” I would recommend my colleague, John Horrigan’s excellent work in the recent Alliance for Excellent Education report, “Students of Color Caught in the Homework Gap” and Common Sense Media report, titled “The Homework Gap: Teacher Perspectives on Closing the Digital Divide.”

For more information about the necessity of affordable access to the internet, please see my 2019 article, titled “The Ability to Pay for Broadband” for the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society with my colleagues, Dr. Bianca Reisdorf and Madison Bishop. To learn more about the high cost of internet service in the U.S., check out the excellent “Cost of Connectivity” report from New America.

Finally, to learn more about the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Broadband Benefit program, see this excellent primer from Next Century Cities and additional information and resources from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.

State of Illinois Seal

NEW REPORT: Universal Broadband in Illinois

By Broadband, Digital Equity, Digital Inclusion, Publications, ResearchNo Comments

In a new report by John Horrigan (Technology Policy Institute), Brian Whitacre (Oklahoma State University), and Colin Rhinesmith (Simmons University and CI Lab Director), the authors present findings from a study of broadband affordability for all residents in Illinois.

In the report, titled “Universal Broadband in Illinois: Studying the Costs of Providing Free and Affordable Service for All Residents” the executive summary states,

“This report presents findings from a study of technology and internet adoption in Illinois and includes cost estimates for providing free broadband access as well as the alternative goal of providing affordable broadband access to all residents in the State, including in areas with high poverty levels. This study is unique in that it not only examines what the State needs to do to promote universal broadband infrastructure; it also considers universal broadband affordability and adoption. In other words, this report recognizes that broadband infrastructure is only ‘one side of the connectivity coin, as Connect Illinois has identified in its strategic plan.”

A summary of the report with key findings can be found in this blog post published by the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.

 

Illinois Broadband Affordability Report
17th CIRN Proceedings

New Paper Published in CIRN Conference Proceedings

By Conference, Publications, Research, UncategorizedNo Comments

17th CIRN ProceedingsCI Lab Director, Dr. Colin Rhinesmith, Jo Dutilloy, and Susan Kennedy have a new paper in the 17th Community Informatics Research Network Conference proceedings, which are now available on the Monash University website. The Conference Proceedings were co-edited by Larry Stillman and Misita Anwar (Monash University) along with Colin and Vanessa Rhinesmith.

The paper, titled “Co-Designing an Open Source Broadband Measurement System with Public Libraries” was co-authored with several colleagues involved in the  IMLS grant funded research project, “Measuring Library Broadband Networks” grant (award #LG-71-18-0110-18).

Here is the abstract:

This paper presents findings from a participatory design workshop with public librarians and information technology practitioners to gain their insights on the development of an open source broadband measurement system for public libraries across the United States. Participatory design has been a key strategy in community informatics to engage users in the design, implementation, and evaluation of information and community technology (ICT). This engagement assumes that those most impacted by ICTs should be involved in making decisions about how these technologies are developed. While findings from previous studies have shown the value of using participatory design in community informatics projects, fewer studies have investigated how such design processes might be used to develop open-source technology systems with public libraries. Our study seeks to address this gap in the literature by focusing heavily on the participatory design elements in our data collection and analysis. Findings from our qualitative analysis of the workshop data reveal that public libraries want more knowledge of their broadband networks to better communicate with their patrons, respond to their communities’ digital needs, and justify the importance of robust internet connectivity to their funders. We believe these findings show the value of using participatory design in community informatics with public libraries, as well as the benefits of sharing co-design techniques with researchers and practitioners in the field.”

The full text of the paper is available for download here.

New Co-Edited Special Issue in Social Inclusion

By Digital Equity, Digital Inclusion, Journals, Publications, ResearchNo Comments

The open access journal, Social Inclusion published a new special issue, titled “Digital Inclusion Across the Globe: What Is Being Done to Tackle Digital Inequities?” The issue was co-edited by Dr. Bianca Reisdorf (University of North Carolina at Charlotte) and Community Informatics Lab Director, Dr. Colin Rhinesmith.

As the abstract explains,

“There is a large body of research that has examined digital inequities, inequalities, and divides—i.e., those countries, communities, and individuals digitally left behind or disadvantaged. Whereas we know quite a lot about what is lacking and for whom, there is less focus on what works to alleviate these inequalities and divides in a variety of cultural contexts. This thematic issue brings together scholarship on digital inclusion initiatives and research from over 20 countries and in the context of numerous aspects, including different types of initiatives as well as different types of target audiences for these initiatives. Each article provides unique insights into what does and does not work in various communities, making recommendations on what could be done to improve the examined initiatives. We hope that the breadth and depth of articles presented here will be useful not just for academic audiences seeking to broaden their understanding of digital inclusion and ‘what can be done’ rather than focusing on ‘what is amiss,’ but also for policymakers and digital inclusion initiatives who are eager to expand and advance their digital inclusion work within their communities.”

The entire issue is open access and available for free on the Social Inclusion website.

Broadband Connectivity in Montana’s Public Libraries

By Broadband, Public Libraries, Publications, ResearchNo Comments

Benton Institute for Broadband & SocietyOur research team recently collaborated with the Montana State Library to produce a new report, titled “The State of Broadband Connectivity and Related IT Infrastructure in Montana’s Public Libraries.” The report can be found on the Montana State Library’s publications page on their website. In the paper, we present findings from our analysis of data gathered by the Montana State Library in 2019 using Internet2’s Toward Gigabit Libraries Toolkit with public libraries across the state.

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society just published a new blog post, titled “While More Americans Rely on Parking Lot Wi-Fi, Many Public Libraries Do Not Have Adequate Broadband,” in which we provide a summary of the major findings from our analysis of the Montana public libraries data.

It was an honor for us to work with the Montana State Library and the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society to produce and share the findings from our analysis. The Montana State Library also just produced this amazing visualization of the data gathered from the Toward Gigabit Libraries Toolkit.

New JoCI Editor-In-Chief

By Conference, Journals, Publications, ResearchNo Comments

I am honored and excited to announce that beginning March 1, 2020 I will be beginning my new role as Editor-In-Chief of The Journal of Community Informatics taking over for Eduardo Villanueva. The announcement was first made last November at the annual Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN) conference at the Monash Centre in Prato, Italy. I am currently working with Eduardo to begin the transfer of the journal’s responsibilities over this coming month. I hope to open the journal back up for submissions beginning in March 2020. Stay tuned for updates here at the new website for the Community Informatics Lab @ SLIS.

New Research to Investigate Broadband Measurement in Libraries

By ResearchNo Comments

Dr. Rhinesmith recently received an IMLS National Leadership Grant (#LG-71-18-0110-18) with New America’s Open Technology Institute and Internet2 to examine how advanced broadband measurement capabilities can support the infrastructure and services needed to respond to the digital demands of public library users across the U.S.

Here’s the description of the project from the IMLS website:

“Simmons College, along with New America’s Open Technology Institute, and Internet2, will examine how advanced broadband measurement capabilities can support the infrastructure and services needed to respond to the digital demands of public library users across the U.S. The project will gather quantitative and qualitative data from public libraries across the country to 1) understand the broadband speeds and quality of service that public libraries receive; 2) assess how well broadband service and infrastructure are supporting their communities’ digital needs; 3) understand broadband network usage and capacity; and 4) increase their knowledge of networked services and connectivity needs. The project deliverables include an open source and replicable broadband measurement platform, training manual to help public librarians use that platform, and a final report on the project.”

Visit the IMLS website to download our program materials to learn more about the project.

 

City of Boston Digital Equity Fund

By Digital EquityNo Comments

The City of Boston just announced their new Digital Equity Fund. This initiative will be overseen by the Mayor’s Department of Innovation & Technology. Colin Rhinesmith was invited to join the advisory board along with the following people: Alessandra Brown, Director, Roxbury Innovation Center; Turahn Dorsey, Chief of Education, City of Boston: Trinh Nguyen, Director of Workforce Development, City of Boston; and Sasha Costanza-Chock, Associate Professor of Civic Media, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Here is a snippet from today’s press release:

“Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the creation of a $35,000 Digital Equity Fund, which will support the City’s goal of ensuring all residents have equal access to digital services. The Digital Equity Fund will provide support to community-based organizations that help Boston residents fully connect and participate in today’s media and information landscape. ‘A more connected Boston is a more equitable City, a more innovative City and a more prosperous City,’ said Mayor Walsh. ‘This grant program will allow more residents to connect digitally, and will encourage residents to grow their digital skills while increasing access to information.’

The Digital Equity Fund will explore ways to build individual and community capacity to:

  • Use the Internet, digital skills, and digital tools to pursue professional, educational, and civic endeavors;
  • Engage with the Internet safely and securely;
  • Develop needs-responsive, community driven digital skills building opportunities;
  • Increase broadband adoption among the roughly 1 in 5 Bostonians who do not subscribe to this service in the home.

In 2017, Boston will award one grant of $35,000 or up to two grants up to $17,500 each to nonprofit organizations that promote digital equity. By providing seed funding, the City hopes to identify promising strategies that can attract outside funding and further create a City where everyone has the tools and skills they need to succeed in the 21st century.”

Read the full press release here.

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