Describe the need that you’re trying to address.
Capital Area District Libraries (CADL) is a system of 13 libraries that serves 238,859 urban, suburban, and rural patrons in Ingham County, Michigan. While the greater Lansing area has many competitive options for obtaining Internet connectivity, there are many patrons who face economic and social barriers to maintaining consistent broadband access at home (the poverty rate is 22% county-wide, 30% in Lansing). Outside of the greater Lansing area, many patrons do not have the ability to obtain fixed broadband access at home at any price, and either use expensive cellular or satellite options or go without.
The digital divide is real. Students without Internet access face a distinct disadvantage at school. Secondary education and professional training also increasingly involve online components. Applications for jobs, college, loans, benefits—all online. The library’s own collections are shifting to digital formats, following the demand of the digital “haves”. The open hours of our branches do not fill the gap for many, many working families and vulnerable populations. More hotspots in more places and different contexts means more opportunity to connect and will narrow the digital divide.
What would be a successful outcome for your project?
Our proposed project would establish a TVWS base station on the Downtown Lansing CADL branch and library branded, public hotspots at two community centers—the South Side Community Coalition (SSCC) Center and the Letts Community Center.
SSCC is a small, independent non-profit that works with vulnerable populations of many ages. They support school age children with after school programs (30+ participants a day) and summer programs (50+ participants a day). They have an active senior group. They support job seekers and have a food pantry. They have a hoop house to support urban gardening programs and are especially interested in extending Internet access into that space. Their wired Internet connection serves their staff offices and a small computer lab. They do not make their limited WiFi network publicly available because the traffic would impede the network performance for their current functions.
Letts Community Center is one of the city-operated community centers. It is managed by the Lansing Parks and Recreation Department and hosts a large array of year-round youth and senior programs. It is nestled in Lansing’s Westside neighborhood, adjacent to an elementary school. Our focus would be to provide robust public access wireless service to support their meeting and program room. They also have an outdoor play space, picnic shelter, and community gardens that could be served with an additional outdoor access point.
In addition to marketing the availability of library WiFi at those locations, CADL outreach staff will design wrap-around services as appropriate, for example mobile library stops, pop-up library visits, digital skills classes, etc.
After we have a successful implementation, an additional activity will include contacting Lansing emergency managers to explain and demonstrate our new infrastructure, with the hope of exploring how it could be used for disaster response. Perhaps this could lead to joint planning or funding of a mobile, solar battery powered receiver station.
- 2-3 CADL WiFi hotspots in community centers to serve youth and seniors where they already gather
- Usage of the community hotspots that equals or surpasses that of our small branches
- Experience planning and deploying TVWS technology
- New or strengthened community partnerships
- Lessons learned and shared with the Michigan library community
- Repeatable model for identifying, planning, paying for, and deploying community hotspots
- Successful examples of applications of TVWS technology that can attract further investment in closing the digital divide.
Please list your team members or partners and their roles
- Sheryl Knox, CADL Technology Director – grant administration, project management, procurement, technology planning, evaluation and documentation
- Brian Jerome, CADL Systems and Network Administrator – technology planning and deployment
- Jolee Hamlin, CADL Associate Director for Public Service and Jim MacLean, CADL Head of Community Outreach – hotspot site planning and wrap-around support
- CADL Marketing department – marketing materials and strategy
- Yolanda Sherrer, Youth and Senior Program Manager, South Side Community Coalition – coordination and planning, evaluation
- Brett Kaschinske, Director, City of Lansing Parks and Recreation – coordination and planning, evaluation
- Collin Boyce, Chief Information Officer, City of Lansing– coordination and planning
- TVWS equipment vendors – technology planning and deployment support
- Mitchell Shapiro, Telecommunications Industry Researcher and CADL patron – advice and project support