City of Dallas partners with Cisco to promote digital inclusion in Dallas communities
In an effort to increase WiFi access in communities with limited online connectivity, the City of Dallas’ Office of Resilience and Department of Information & Technology Services, in collaboration with technology and networking giant Cisco, has increased the accessibility of free public WiFi outside four Dallas Public Library locations: Prairie Creek, Lancaster-Kiest, Highland Hills and Dallas West. The outdoor technology allows users to connect to the library’s free and secure WiFi from parking lots between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. every day.
“Even though their doors have been closed for months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our libraries have continued to provide important resources to the people of Dallas,” said Mayor Eric Johnson. “This wonderful pilot program to increase WiFi accessibility outside four libraries is a boon to our residents during a difficult time and represents a positive step toward closing the digital divide in underserved Dallas neighborhoods.”
In addition to the outdoor IT infrastructure, part of the technology donation includes video endpoint units inside select Dallas Public Library locations: Polk-Wisdom, Prairie Creek, Lancaster-Kiest, and Highland Hills. These devices provide an access point to virtual services without logging onto a computer. When libraries are able to safely reopen to the public, these units will provide a direct connection to Dallas City Council meetings for public comment, as well as provide other opportunities for community engagement.
“With COVID-19 closing down libraries and schools, it is important now more than ever to ease the challenges of limited internet services in low-connectivity areas,” said Director of Libraries Jo Giudice. “This is a wonderful partnership that will extend WiFi access to the parking lots of four of our branches serving some of the most vulnerable populations.”
“As leaders, it is incumbent upon us to step up and help create inclusive futures for our communities that are now at greater risk of being left behind by the digital divide,” said Nick Michaelides, Senior Vice President, US Public Sector at Cisco. “Achieving ubiquitous internet takes a village; we are proud of this important initiative with the City of Dallas that will provide WiFi to underserved communities in a time of seemingly essential need.”
The technology donation was provided through Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) Program, which has active national and regional level digitization initiatives in 36 countries.
Local IT integrator Presidio is donating its time and expertise to the initiative by managing the successful deployment of the technology.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, residents are encouraged to maintain at least six feet of physical distance from other visitors and – if possible – remain in their vehicles while using WiFi in library parking lots. Library buildings remain closed to the public, and Library staff is unavailable for in-person assistance.
Written by Tenisha L. Bogan