On Monday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced the latest efforts in her initiative to close the digital divide in New Orleans.
Reconnect NOLA is a community device repair clinic that will focus on minor fixes that can restore residents’ access to the Internet. The clinic has been created through a partnership between the City’s Information Technology and New Orleans Recreation Development Commission and STEM NOLA, an educational program that focuses on inspiring and engaging members of the community about opportunities Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
“The Internet has become a daily part of life,” Mayor Cantrell said, before pointing out that 66 percent of New Orleans lower-income residents do not have Internet access at home. “This is about addressing the digital divide head-on, moving our city toward digital equity and improving the quality of life of our families.”
Reconnect NOLA will over a number of services, including:
- New tablet/laptop setup
- Virus, spyware, and computer clean up
- Memory upgrades
- Basic data transfer and backup
- Operating system restoration and upgrade
- Email setup
“Technology can be the great equalizer, but in groups and communities without access, it threatens to marginalize them even further. The Office of Information Technology provides internet, email and technical support to over 4-thousand city employees and their devices. We are excited to extend our support to the community,” said Kim LaGrue, Chief Information Officer for the City of New Orleans.
In the past STEMNOLA’s work has focused on New Orleans’ children. “We are able to serve the kids, but now this program gives us a platform to serve their parents,” said STEM NOLA founder Dr. Calvin Mackie. “Access is the currency in the 21st century… We have to make sure that everyone has access and a program like this is where it starts.”
The program will be held in conjunction with STEM NOLA Saturdays. The first event will take place on Saturday, May 4, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Joe W. Brown Center.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.