MAPC Named One of Nation’s Digital Inclusion Trailblazers

MAPC Named One of Nation’s Digital Inclusion Trailblazers

MAPC is recognized for its Apartment Wi-Fi program and municipal digital equity plans

BOSTON – February 21, 2024 – The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) named the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) as a 2023 Digital Inclusion Trailblazer, recognizing the agency’s efforts to close the digital divide. MAPC’s Digital Equity team provides planning and procurement technical assistance to municipalities across the Greater Boston region and affordable housing providers across the Commonwealth.

As the pandemic demonstrated, digital inclusion – access to affordable high-speed internet, devices, and digital skills training – is essential to participating and thriving in today’s world.  

“High quality internet is essential to full participation in our modern society, and no household in the Commonwealth or throughout Greater Boston should have to experience anything less,” said Stephen Larrick, digital services manager at MAPC. “At this unique moment – as federal funding becomes more available – we want to make sure communities and housing partners are ready with projects and action plans that will serve those who have been most impacted by the digital divide. MAPC is committed to providing the planning and procurement technical assistance to achieve that vision.” 

This year, MAPC joins a record number of Digital Inclusion Trailblazers, with 47 total awardees, including the cities of Boston, Quincy, Randolph, and Somerville in the region, representing municipal, county, and regional governments paving the way for digitally inclusive communities across the U.S.

MAPC staff members received the award at the National Digital Inclusion Alliance conference in February 2024. Pictured from left to right: Abby Cohen, American Connection Corps member serving at MAPC; Miles Miller, NDIA program associate; Anagha Devanarayanan, MAPC digital equity planner; Aaron Schill, NDIA director of research & programs; Will Pfeffer, MAPC civic technologist; Paolo Balboa, NDIA senior programs manager; Stephen Larrick, MAPC digital services manager; and Scott Woods, Ready.net president of public-private partnerships.
MAPC staff members received the award at the National Digital Inclusion Alliance conference in February 2024. Pictured from left to right: Abby Cohen, American Connection Corps member serving at MAPC; Miles Miller, NDIA program associate; Anagha Devanarayanan, MAPC digital equity planner; Aaron Schill, NDIA director of research & programs; Will Pfeffer, MAPC civic technologist; Paolo Balboa, NDIA senior programs manager; Stephen Larrick, MAPC digital services manager; and Scott Woods, Ready.net president of public-private partnerships.

“Nonprofits, libraries, churches, and other community organizations can’t reach digital equity on their own. For everyone to thrive in today’s digital world, we need all hands on deck,” said Angela Siefer, executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. “NDIA’s Digital Inclusion Trailblazers exemplify the key role local governments have in building connected communities for all of their residents.” 

In November 2023, MAPC launched the first site in its Apartment Wi-Fi pilot program, which provides 100 public housing units in Revere with free Wi-Fi. This pilot program also includes public housing sites in Chelsea and Quincy, both of which will launch soon. MAPC also launched a new, expanded Apartment Wi-Fi program in partnership with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at the MassTech Collaborative under the Municipal Digital Equity Partnership Program, with funding provided by Massachusetts ARPA State Fiscal Recovery Funds. The first cohort of housing sites in this program includes 1,000 units of affordable, family housing located in Boston; two public housing sites in Somerville comprising 455 units of family housing; 305 units of family and senior public housing in North Adams; and 183 units of senior affordable housing in Lynn. Through both programs, MAPC and our housing partners will provide residents with access to reliable, high-speed Wi-Fi connections, at no cost to residents.

MAPC is also working with 12 communities on four digital equity plans, including Somerville, Quincy, Gloucester, and the Greater Lowell area. The plans focus on understanding community needs and existing conditions, as well as making recommendations for policy and program interventions the communities can implement to help support access to broadband, ensure residents have appropriate devices, and facilitate digital literacy skills. The digital equity plans also lay the foundations for these communities to apply for anticipated grant funding to begin digital equity projects. MAPC launched the Commonwealth’s first regional digital equity plan in 2022 after a comprehensive planning process with the cities of Chelsea, Everett, and Revere. 

NDIA revised the seven-year-old Trailblazer program this year, identifying seven categories of current best practices. Each applicant’s materials are verified for accuracy, assessed for community impact, and posted in an interactive map and searchable database on NDIA’s website. By sharing materials with open-sourcing, NDIA provides community advocates and local governments ways to continue learning, connect with trailblazing peers, and plan their own digital inclusion solutions. 

Digital equity plays a crucial role in several action areas laid out in MetroCommon 2050, Greater Boston’s regional land use and policy plan. Visit mapc.org/digital-equity for more information on MAPC’s digital equity planning work, resources, and an overview of our analysis, planning, procurement, and community engagement services.

PRESS CONTACT

Tim Viall
Senior Communications Specialist
tviall@mapc.org
C: 508-965-0456