Embedding Equity in City Broadband Investments
by The Tech Executive Leadership Initiative Summer 2021 Cohort
As part of their 10-week technology policy training program, the leaders of the Tech Executive Leadership Initiative spent 6 weeks working on real-world government challenges. In teams of 4-5, the leaders tackled the following prompt:
The City of New York is currently carrying out the largest city-led initiative to close the digital divide in the nation, seeking to provide quality internet service to the 40% of City households that do not have both home and mobile broadband. As the City contracts with private companies through this initiative, how can it ensure that companies adhere to digital inclusion principles such as equity, performance, affordability, privacy, and choice?
Click below to view a sample of the outputs each team created.
Preferred Vendor Certification Program
This project recommends that the City establish an Internet Service Provider Preferred Vendor Certification Program that provides enticements to vendors who meet certain performance and affordability criteria. Establishing a voluntary certification program would incentivize vendors to provide more affordable internet services without the City having to engage in the costly and litigious process of enforcing affordability and access provisions in contracts.
Project Loop: Community Feedback and Vendor Incentive Program
This project recommends that the City adopt a Community Feedback System and a Vendor Incentive Program to incentivize vendors with advertising opportunities. These elements seek to create a circle of transparency that holds vendors accountable to the communities they serve, and makes good publicity contingent on high performance.
EBT System for Broadband Subsidies
This project recommends that the City of New York work with City and State agencies to subsidize the cost of broadband for low-income households using existing Electronic Benefits Transfer infrastructure. Expanding EBT infrastructure to cover broadband payments would directly lower the cost of broadband for low-income households and offer a sustainable, long-term solution.
A Robust Internal System for Successful Broadband Implementation
This project recommends that the City couple its Universal Solicitation for Broadband Request for Proposals with a robust internal performance management system for the Internet Service Providers awarded contracts through this process. The suggested system is anchored by five main priorities, including: well-defined metrics for digital equity; a regular performance review schedule; and mechanisms to reward or penalize vendors based on performance.
EDEN: NYC Digital Equity Index and Provider Accreditation
This project proposes that the City implement a rigorous and holistic summary of digital equity indicators – the Expanding Digital Equity in NYC (EDEN) Index – to evaluate progress towards equitable broadband access. The EDEN Index seeks to both enable the City to consistently assess provider performance and to accredit exemplary providers as “digital equity champions.”