Next Century Cities today announced that Louisville is among three cities given an award recognizing projects that harness high-speed internet to enhance civic engagement and democratic participation.
Louisville was given the inaugural Charles Benton Next Generation Engagement Award for its plan to develop a Gigabit Experience Center.
Joining Austin, Texas, and Raleigh, N.C., Louisville will receive $30,000 and hands-on technical assistance to help drive the Gigabit Experience Center forward in the next year.
Louisville Metro Government plans use the award to identify and wire an existing community center in west Louisville with gigabit connectivity, providing access to digital training, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement opportunities.
“Gigabit connectivity is a key to creating socio-economic opportunity and equity in a global economy — driving innovation, expanding our economy and providing residents with new opportunities,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “The Gigabit Experience Center will allow us to help our citizens see the enormous potential this technology has for reshaping our city.”
Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities, said: “We know that broadband connectivity can bring economic and educational development to a region, but next-generation broadband is also a valuable tool for empowering citizens to be actively engaged in their communities.
“The new Gigabit Experience Center in Louisville and the other two winners of the Benton Awards show a range of exciting approaches, and all three cities share a strong commitment to better engaging their citizens using high-speed broadband connectivity.”
Through the Gigabit Experience Center, city leaders are seeking to increase awareness about the importance of high-speed internet access and to provide an opportunity for residents to build their digital skills.
At the center, citizens will be able to experience virtual reality and take classes on innovation. The center will also include connectivity stations for residents, artists and musicians co-creating engaging technology exhibitions, and more.
The Benton Award was given by Next Century Cities, a nonprofit membership organization of over 145 mayors and city leaders nationwide committed to ensuring access to fast, affordable and reliable internet access for their citizens. As a founding member, Louisville has been a member of Next Century Cities since its inception in 2014.
In addition to providing expert technical assistance as the program gets underway, Next Century Cities will also elevate Louisville’s creative use of next-generation broadband to bolster civic engagement and will promote replication of the Gigabit Experience Center project nationwide.
More information about both the winning projects and the award program can be found here.