This page is for documenting research on access to computers and Internet in Oakland, active organizations tackling the digital divide, and local ISPs that allow for sharing bandwidth in their Terms of Service.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics & Bureau of Census, 32% of Oakland residents lack internet connectivity, with an additional 5.6% connected elsewhere but not at home.
The Free Press published a short report on media inequality in the Bay Area in January of 2014. From the report:
- "AT&T and Comcast are the dominant telecommunications service providers in the Bay Area, though competitive providers like Sonic.net serve small pockets in the North Bay and the peninsula. Broadband adoption in the Bay Area is high relative to the state and national averages. As of June 2011 (the most recent data-reporting period), most portions of the Bay Area had broadband-adoption levels near or above 80 percent of households. But there are numerous neighborhoods in areas like Alameda, Oakland, Richmond and San Jose where broadband adoption is well below the state and national averages. Over the past decade, the California Public Utilities Commission has removed regulations and oversight of the stateâ€™s major telecom providers. This deregulation was supposed to lower prices and improve consumer choices, but the rates for basic services tripled in just a few short years."
A 2014 Oakland North article, "OUSD study finds link between lack of Internet, computer access and poverty level" maps out the digital divide among Oakland public schools:
"'I feel a little different, because some people at my school do have Internet access at home' said Stewart, age 13. 'They donâ€™t have to worry, cause they can go home and do it. But I canâ€™t.' Stewart is not the only student in Oakland who faces this kind of difficulty. According to a study conducted by Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) in August and September, 14,097 students do not have computers and/or high-speed Internet access at home. That represents about 40 percent of the student population in Oakland."
City of Oakland Wireless Broadband Feasibility Study (2009) - Lengthy report on the feasibility of providing free municipal wifi throughout the city of Oakland. Research included focus groups with representatives from the various districts of Oakland, public comments, and extensive mapping of a wireless network operating on the 2.4GHz and 4.9Mz bands.
- "Participants made a distinction between "free" and "affordable" service, and overwhelmingly chose not to endorse the provision of free Internet access to businesses and residences. Providing public access, free or otherwise, at public facilities, such as libraries and community centers, or high traffic areas, such as bus shelters, the convention center or the downtown area, was generally seen as a much higher priority than providing residential Internet service of any kind. (p.15)"
- "The top concern, identified by city staff, businesses, local agencies and six out of seven focus groups, was that any system be flexible and interoperable. In other words, that it can be used by all city departments (although every department wouldn't necessarily need access to all the features and capabilities), that it serve as a means of communications with other public agencies, and that the public can use and benefit directly from it, as appropriate. System reliability (including disaster survivability for emergency systems) and security were also perceived as being necessary by most participants.
Complete coverage of the City and mobile access to real-time data was not seen as a necessary technical requirement by most groups, however both were particular priorities of City staff. Both requirements will have to be met if City of Oakland departments are assumed to be regular users of any citywide wireless broadband system. Additionally, there was a general concern expressed during most focus groups, the town hall meeting and some workshops that all areas of the City be served equally, if not fully. (p.18)"
We've been working on a spreadsheet of Oakland community organizations [grassroots, schools, churches, non-profits, etc], which can be found here.
The following is a curation of organizations addressing the digital divide in Oakland (via Oakland Wiki:
- Oakland Technology Exchange West - see our Interview Notes from 2013
- Youth Radio - see our Interview Notes from 2013
- Kapor Center for Social Impact - see our Interview Notes from 2013
- Level Playing Field Institute (related to Kapor Foundation)
- Urban Strategies - contact is Steve Spiker - see our Interview Notes from 2013
- Liberating Ourselves Locally - a POC and women-centered makerspace in East Oakland - see our Interview Notes from 2013
- The Stride Center
- Community Computer Centers run by the nonprofit OCCUR
- The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment - free classes for kids and adults.
- Mosswood Recreational Center - contact is Dan Finlay, a friend of Sudo Room.
- Oakland Public Library Computer Education
- Oakland Unified School District Adult & Career Education
- Techbridge - Inspiring girls in science & tech
- Oakland Digital Arts & Literacy Center (ODALC or Oakland Digital, for short) - Executive Director is Shaun Tai
- Youth UpRising
- Black Engineering and Science Students Association - out of UC Berkeley
- Oakland Asian Students Educational Services
- Alameda County Computer Resource Center - ewaste recyclying program that builds refurbished laptops for low-income and unemployed Oakland residents
- PC Community Computer Users Group
- Acorn Computer Learning Center - Computer training school
- Urban Habitat
- Business Education Technology
- EOBA - East Oakland Boxing Association - Tutoring/Academic Assistance
- City of Oakland, Office of Parks and Recreation
- Assets Project - Provides job training in computer literacy for Oakland residents aged 55+
- Ready Set Connect - A project of the Oakland Public Libraries
- Hack the Hood
- Media Alliance
- Black Girls Code
- Get Connected! Oakland - the City's initiative to connect business and more working on tech and internet access. Seems to be just a PR front
Some ISPs allow sharing of Internet access and others do not. We provide node owners with a list of local ISPs that are known to allow sharing of Internet access and advise them that some ISPs may not allow sharing. The worst case scenario here is that one or more users get their Internet disconnected for terms of service violation.
The ISPs in the East Bay that allow Internet Connection sharing (that we know of) are:
- MonkeyBrains wifi
- Sonic.net DSL
- LMI (Sonic.net reseller) DSL
- Netwood DSL
- Hughes Net Satellite Internet
From deprecated Mesh/Communities page (needs merging with above).
+ = contact(s)
! = rooftop(s)
$ = interested in a space
Italics are relevant musings.
See also prospective node map
- West Oakland*!$
- San Antonio*!
- Adam's Point*!
- Ghost Town*!
- Oakland 5th Ave Marina*!
Resilient communication; internship opportunities; mentorship
- Laney College*$
- Talk to Hilary Naylor [Oakland Unified School District]
Hooking up library catalogs would be rad... and libraries are the last bastion of nurturing public spaces.
- Talk to Ivan
Public wifi on the streets and in parks
- Lake Merritt
- Mosswood Recreation Center in Mosswood Park.
Hyperlocal economies/sharing/barter/timebank; resilient communication tools; neighborhood watch; storytelling
Urban Farms & Community Gardens
Hook up sensors to be informed eg; if garden needs water, coordinate shifts, info on plant care, cropswap coordination...
- Official list of community gardens in Oakland
- The People's Grocery
- Phat Beets
- City Slicker Farms
- Ghost Town Farms
Announcing special kinds of produce / advertising healthy local food and crafts/vendors
- Oakland Wiki has a great list!
Organizations Working to End the Digital Divide
It may be possible to get seed funding or community outreach help from organizations that are working to end the "digital divide."
- FCC Connect America Fund - FCC initiative to expand broadband to underserved communities. Budget up to $4.5 billion per year. https://www.fcc.gov/general/connect-america-fund-caf
- FCC National Broadband Plan - A policy-making initiative of the FCC to expand internet access - https://www.fcc.gov/general/national-broadband-plan
- HUD Connect Home - US Government program through Housing and Urban Development to bring cheap ($10 per month) broadband to underserved areas using existing ISPs - http://connecthome.hud.gov/
- Everyone On - NGO - working to bring affordable 4G service to undeserved communities in the United States - $1.8 million per year in income. Headquartered in Washington DC. http://everyoneon.org/
- Close The Gap - NGO - Mostly focused on providing computers and internet to the developing world. â‚¬6.3 million in assets. Headquartered in Belgium. http://close-the-gap.org/
- Computers for Everyone - Menlo Park, CA based NGO working to provide reused computers to low income community members - http://www.computersforeveryone.org/
- Computers For Classrooms - Chico, CA based NGO working to provide reused computers to low income community members - http://www.computersforclassrooms.org/
- Computers 4 Kids - Sacramento, CA based NGO working to provide reused computers to low income community members - http://www.c4kca.org/
Free wifi attracts new people; community bulletin boards; local media streams
- Taco trucks!
- Give a presentation to the Oakland Rotary Club: http://www.oakland-rotary.org/
- Give a presentation to the Berkeley Rotary Club: http://berkeleyrotary.org/
DIY instructables; Microcontroller projects; developing application; community media; community bulletin boards to promote classes and events; find tools / skilled people / projects
- sudo room*!$
- Liberating Ourselves Locally*!
- The Crucible*!
- Ace Monster Toys*!?$
- Hacker Moms*!?
- Nimby Space!
- Counter Culture Labs*!$
Local streams from community spaces that foster self-expression, art and politics; archives and zine library; radio podcasts;
- Youth Radio*!
- Oakland North*
- Oakland Local*
- AK Press
- Timeless, Infinite Light*
- PM Press
By Donation-based gift economies and lending libraries; solidarity organizing; "craigslist free and de facto locally-relevant"
- Urban Strategies*!
- Oakland Technology Exchange West*! - Tons of equipment for building computers, which they then give away/work-trade to local youth who need them!
- Oakland Workers' Collective - Day laborers organization.
- The Grassroots House - Workspace for radical organizers. In Berkeley.
- Youth Uprising
- The Long Haul*! - Infoshop.
- Urban Habitat
- Techbridge - supporting girls in science and technology
Community events/gathering organizing; skill-sharing; documentation
- A PLACE for Sustainable Living*! - Permaculture mecca located at 1121 64th St in Oakland.
- Rock Paper Scissors Collective*!? - Arts collective and neighbor-friend of sudo's.
- Sustaining Ourselves Locally*! - Food justice collective and neighbor-friend of LOL's.
- The Holdout*!
- The Vulcan*!
Self-organizing and coordination tools; hyperlocal economies;
These projects are headed by friend's of the mesh group and could plug in in some really interesting ways:
- Nerds for Nature*
- Oakland Wiki*
- BACE Timebank*$
- Sun Synchony*!
- Open Oakland*
- East Bay Prisoner Support
- Timelist Group*$
- Rad Brains - Radical mental health collective. #mutualaid
No contacts, but seem interesting:
- Groundscore Collective - Public art.
- Talk to landlords who own a fair number of properties.
- Find folks who might be interested in doing curriculum development for getting kids engaged in community media.
- How to remain the anti-Ingress? http://searchengineland.com/ingress-googles-ar-game-a-stealth-local-data-effort-175417
- More psychogeographic explorations of the urban landscape in which we live and move
- Integrate with bioblitz (NFN).
- Housing projects?
- Put a post on NextDoor for each neighborhood - http://nextdoor.com
- Do a presentation/focus group at LOL
- Make contacts at schools and libraries
- Pitch the mesh at an upcoming Open Oakland monthly general meeting
- curriculum development
Maps of High Demand Areas
- OUSD's Google Map represents a large survey of Oakland schools to determine how many students throughout the district need a computer and Internet access at home
- Areas where people bike and run - based on Strava Data
- Areas where people take photos - based on Sightmaps
- Homes with fiber to the end user - based on Broadband.gov
Map of the Backbone Fiber, Data Centers and Free Wifi in Oakland and Berkeley
Red Lines = Existing backbone fiber optic lines in the East Bay
Red Dots = Data Centers connected the the internet backbone (which can be used for future exit nodes)
Green Dots = Existing Relay Nodes with internet access
Blue Dots = Existing Mesh Nodes without internet access
Light Gray Dots = Locations with free wifi (which could become future relay nodes)
Dark Gray Dots = Locations that would benefit from free internet