The evolution of technology infrastructure in major cities has skyrocketed in recent years. However, in most major metropolitan cities, some areas have advanced more rapidly than others, for various reasons. The disparity between these more, and less connected areas is known as the digital divide. One avenue to bridging this divide is the utilization of private-public partnerships, to develop the infrastructure needed to level the playing field. On June 11th, The Knowledge House (TKH), Andrew Freedman Home, and The Bronx Community Foundation, in partnership with CityBridge, the consortium behind LinkNYC, and New York City DoITT, officially launched their Bronx Gigabit Center with a ceremony at the historical Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx. This center is set to provide high-speed internet, technology innovation and small business development powered by the free LinkNYC public WiFi network. The facility will provide free public Wi-Fi access via the LinkNYC network, along with digital literacy training, free access to laptops and workstations, and other services to further help bridge the digital divide. 

The ceremony included special appearances from New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson, with keynote speeches from: Adams, Gibson, as well as Matt Fraser, New York City’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and the Commissioner of the Office of Technology and Innovation; Robert Sokota, President, Wireless Division at CityBridge; Nick Colvin, CEO of CityBridge; Hugh O’Kane, President, Hugh O’Kane Electric Co., Inc.; Walter Puryear, Director, Andrew Freedman Home; Jerelyn Rodriguez, CEO & Co-Founder, The Knowledge House; and Dr. Meisha Porter, President & CEO of The Bronx Community Foundation.

For this facility, The Digital Library project will develop new educational and workforce programs that prepare youth, young adults, and adults in digital production. Educational focus will be directed towards interdisciplinary skills that cross the creative industries of media, multimedia production, post production, digital printing, mixed multi-media art, music, sound engineering, audio technology, graphic arts, visual arts and animation. Additionally, The Knowledge House will bring digital literacy workshops and customized digital programming to the Andrew Freedman Home and the greater Bronx community. These workshops will run the gamut from technical instruction on computer basics and surfing the internet to foundational lessons in coding. As TKH expands its model to Newark, NJ; Los Angeles, CA; and Atlanta, GA the co-founders also want to continue expanding within the Bronx to make sure that digital access and literacy will always reach Bronxites until the digital divide is nonexistent.

CityBridge and their partners ZenFi Networks and Intersection along with CityBridge and their partnering organizations have plans for the development of additional gigabit centers across New York City, including Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The Manhattan Gigabit Center was launched in Harlem in partnership with Silicon Harlem earlier this year.

To learn more about ZenFi Networks, click here.

To read the full press release, click here.