Mozilla, the National Science Foundation and public-private partnership US Ignite announced that Eugene, Oregon and Lafayette, Louisiana are the two latest inductees into the Gigabit Community Fund that the three organizations created in 2014.
Mozilla, NFS and US Ignite will provide a total of $300,000 in grant funding to individuals, nonprofits and commercial organizations that are developing community service-oriented gigabit information and communications technology (ICT) in both cities. Awards will be made beginning in May.
Launched in June 2016 with funding provided by a three-year, $6 million NSF grant, the US Ignite Smart Gigabit Communities program was created with the goal of spurring deployment of open, affordable gigabit network services that employ digital ICT and smart city technology to enhance public services and overall quality of life in cities throughout the U.S.
Gigabit Community Fund
Elaborating on Eugene and Lafayette joining the program: “We’ll support educators, technologists and community activists in Eugene and Lafayette who are building and beta-testing the emerging technologies that are shaping the web,” Mozilla’s Christopher Lawrence wrote in a March 14 blog post.
“We’ll fuel projects that leverage gigabit networks to make learning more inclusive and engaging through VR field trips, ultra-high definition classroom collaboration, and real-time cross-city robot battles. (These are all real examples from the existing Mozilla gigabit cities of Austin, Chattanooga and Kansas City.)”
Also in partnership with NSF and US Ignite, Mozilla is offering a $2 million prize for projects that help assure that the original vision of the Internet and World Wide Web is realized by keeping it decentralized, resilient and open and accessible to all.
“The Internet should be a public resource open and accessible to all. And, it is to many. But many people still lack reliable, affordable Internet access. And the underlying network itself is increasingly centralized, relying on infrastructure provided by a tiny handful of companies,” Mozilla’s Mark Surman wrote upon announcement of the $2 million prize. “We don’t have a fail-safe if the infrastructure these companies offer is blocked or goes down.”
Commenting on the prize competition, Lawrence wrote: We can’t build a healthy internet — one that cherishes freedom, openness and inclusion — alone. To keep the internet a global public resource, we need a network of individuals and organizations and institutions.”
Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, became the first city outside the U.S. to become a member of the US Ignite Smart Gigabit Communities program this past September.