Community Leaders Call for the Rapid Deployment of Link5G Smart Poles in New York’s Underserved Neighborhoods
June 21, 2023 8:15a Eastern
Community Leaders Call for the Rapid Deployment of
Link5G Smart Poles in New York’s Underserved Neighborhoods
Recent challenges to the deployment of new 5G and Wi-Fi connectivity
prompts communities to speak out in support of the latest technology
New York, New York (Technology, Social Services, Public Health) - The digital divide in New York City is being called out by helpNYC, a nonprofit that advocates for lower barriers to entry-level services that underserved communities depend on in New York City. Rue Parkin, helpNYC’s Executive Director, joined the chorus of voices at a recent New York City Council Committee on Technology hearing to encourage the Council to champion the rapid deployment of LinkNYC’s new Link5G smart poles that will bring 5G connectivity and free high-speed Wi-Fi internet access to all neighborhoods across New York City.
“These new Link5G smart poles are an essential next step in the efforts to close the digital divide we have in low-income and middle-class neighborhoods in the outer boroughs. The City’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity (TRIE) learned during the pandemic that children in underserved neighborhoods lacked sufficient internet access to virtually attend school and have fallen behind in comparison to their peers that had access to the internet. This is just one example of how important these Link5G smart poles need to be rapidly deployed in the neighborhoods of the outer boroughs.” commented Rue Parkin, Executive Director of the helpNYC Corporation.
LinkNYC, the world’s largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network and the program behind the LinkNYC kiosks and new Link5G smart poles, deployed helpNYC’s helpNYC.info Resource Navigator in November of 2022. The resource navigator connects New Yorkers in need to social and public health services–with the deployment and expansion of the Link5Gs, helpNYC will be able to expand the accessibility of resources New Yorkers need to conquer everyday challenges.
“Having the Link5G smart poles in underserved neighborhoods will allow us to reach more people than before. Many people who could use the helpNYC.info Resource Navigator either don’t know we exist or do not have the technology resources to access the website. If there were Link5Gs in every neighborhood we would be able to reach more New Yorkers who need our help,” added Parkin.
In the short time since its addition, over 29,000 New Yorkers have accessed the resource navigator using a LinkNYC tablet. Currently, the resource navigator is available on over 2,000 LinkNYC kiosk tablets and will also be included in the deployment of 2,000 Link5G smart poles.
“We are focused on ensuring our city’s underserved communities get the opportunities, access, and investment they deserve. That’s why LinkNYC partners directly with community groups, non-profits, and advocacy organizations like helpNYC,” said Margaux Knee, Chief Administrative Officer of LinkNYC. “It’s a privilege to work alongside our partners as we strive to make New York City’s telecommunications infrastructure the most equitable and advanced in the world.”
Over 130 organizations, community leaders, and members have signed onto a letter helpNYC issued on June 21, 2023 to Mayor Eric Adams and Speaker Adrienne Adams to encourage them to champion the deployment of the Link5Gs in the outer boroughs of New York City with the prioritization of the neighborhoods that the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity identified were distinctly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
In the open letter, helpNYC expressed the need for rapid deployment because, “…underserved communities and New Yorkers experiencing homelessness don’t have the opportunities our privileged neighbors enjoy and take for granted. Having reliable access to the internet through 5G or free public Wi-Fi enables those who need help to have an active role in shaping their own futures,” which directly confronts the opponents to the new Link5G smart poles.
Organizations, community members, and leaders can read the letter and sign on at helpNYC.link/freewifi.
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The letter can be found at helpNYC.link/freewifi.
helpNYC is a peer-driven community-based organization that educates, advocates for and provides direct services to people who are in need. We promote Human Rights, Social Justice, and social and economic opportunities. Our belief that people are the experts in their own lives is the essence of our work.
New York City has one of the largest and extremely comprehensive public health and social service systems in the world, there are only a few, if any, challenges New Yorkers can’t get help with. However, that system of services and resources is extremely challenging for even the most resourceful individuals.
The helpNYC.info Resource Navigator is the first program of its kind to simplify the navigation of low-barrier services and resources in a person-first, system-second approach.
helpNYC actively works to use technology, best practices, language, and other innovative methods to eliminate barriers and stigmas for those in need to access services, resources, and information from our programs.
Even the website is programmed to be accessible on all platforms and bandwidths, especially government-subsidized technology like cell phones and other devices, making our services low-barrier from the first click.
Since 2018, over 98,000 New Yorkers have accessed the helpNYC.info Resource Navigator seeking information and help with over 85 different service types including food assistance, emergency housing, and healthcare services.
LinkNYC is the world’s largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network. Each Link kiosk provides free superfast Wi-Fi, phone calls, device charging, access to social services, and displays content such as real-time weather, transit info, public art, and local information. The city-wide network has more than 13 million Wi-Fi users and has connected more than 25 million free phone calls. All of LinkNYC’s services are completely free to users and taxpayers, provided by CityBridge, a partnership led by Intersection and ZenFi Networks. The second generation offering will deploy thousands of new kiosks, called Link5G, enabled with 5G wireless technology across the city. For more information about LinkNYC or to find a Link near you, visit www.link.nyc.