Mayor Brandon Scott announced that the City of Baltimore would invest $35 million of ARPA funds into bringing fiber broadband to 23 recreation centers.
Yesterday Mayor Brandon Scott announced a $35 million investment, using ARPA funds, in bringing fiber broadband to 23 of the city’s recreation centers. The first $6 million will be used to dramatically expand public internet access, expanding City fiber to the remaining 23 recreation centers not already on the city’s network and bringing 100 secure wi-fi hotspots to West Baltimore neighborhoods. By treating broadband as essential public infrastructure, Baltimore will take an active stance to expand coverage and accessibility across the city.
“The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that internet access is critical, basic public infrastructure. From our students to our older adults, Baltimoreans struggled to learn virtually, work from home, and access needed telemedicine on unreliable, slow connections and limited access to broadband,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “We will not wait — today’s $35 million investment with American Rescue Plan dollars is about taking an active role and kickstarting our efforts to not just bridge the divide, but close it once and for all, with a strong focus on our residents and neighborhoods lacking access. This is just the beginning.”
The first round of funding will allow the City of Baltimore to:
- Expand City fiber to the remaining 23 Baltimore recreation centers not already on the city’s network, bringing secure, public internet access to residents inside and outside of these buildings;
- Install at least 100 secure, free public wi-fi hotspots across ten West Baltimore neighborhoods, including Mondawmin, Reservoir Hill, Upton, Sandtown-Winchester, Penn North, Druid Heights, Madison Park, Coppin Heights, Easterwood, and Bolton Hill;
- Hire a Digital Equity Coordinator and staff with expertise in wi-fi deployment, fiber engineering, operations, and tech support.
Details about the remainder of the $35 million investment to close the digital divide will be shared in early 2022.
At the MACo Winter Conference, panelists will discuss both broadband expansion and the future of parks departments. During “Building Out Broadband, Building Up Maryland,” the discussion will focus on strategies, resources, and lessons learned by those at the community level working on broadband expansion. While “New Tech for Parks and Rec: Rebooting Public Spaces” will examine the future of parks in the twenty-first century and how technology can enhance the services offered by public spaces.
The 2021 MACo Winter Conference, “Time to Reboot: Tomorrow’s Tech Today,” will be held on December 8-10, 2021, at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland.
Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: