City tech officials to discuss digital equity plans, $10M fiber optic pilot project at Wednesday community meeting

City tech officials to discuss digital equity plans, $10M fiber optic pilot project at Wednesday community meeting

  • Construction to begin this summer on APRA-Funded pilot project to install fiber optic access throughout Hope Village neighborhood, where residents suffered a 45-day internet outage during the pandemic
  • City’s CIO and Director of Digital Inclusion also discuss long-term goal of installing fiber-optic lines at every home in the city to provide high-speed internet at a lower cost

DETROIT (April 18, 2022) – The City’s two top technology officials on Wednesday will host a community meeting to discuss the city’s goal of closing its digital divide, starting with a $10 million pilot project that will deliver high speed fiber optic internet access to every home and business in one Detroit neighborhood most in need of improved access and reliability.

Using federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, the pilot project will take place in the Hope Village neighborhood on the city’s west side, which experienced a 45-day internet outage during the pandemic. Work will begin as early as next month and is expected to be completed by 2023. Residents will be invited to opt-in and participate.

When: Wednesday, April 20th: 2PM-4PM for policymakers and community leaders; 6PM-8PM for residents

Where: Focus: HOPE, 1400 Oakman Blvd, Detroit

Hope Village is located between the Lodge and Davison Freeways, Dexter to the west, and Hamilton to the east. Approximately 5,700 residents live in the area, which has about 2,000 homes. The Hope Village community was selected because residents experienced a 45-day internet outage during the pandemic when people across the globe were relying heavily on digital capabilities. Current lines must be replaced.

“Mayor Mike Duggan has given us a mandate to address the city’s digital divide and this pilot project is an important first step toward our goal of building an affordable and reliable digital infrastructure that is accessible to every Detroiter,” said Joshua Edmonds, Detroit’s Director of Digital Inclusion.

How Detroit’s Fiber Optic Infrastructure Will Work

Multiple providers will have access to the same fiber infrastructure, fostering competition and lowering costs for customers. The city is studying different ways to minimize costs, as well as a sliding scale for lower-income residents.

“We’re building an automated open access network,” Edmonds explained. “Open access operates like our airports and roads. The city provides the infrastructure and internet service providers can use the fiber lines the city installs to deliver service to residents.”

It is estimated that a fiber optic system will last more than 50 years. As more internet speed is needed, cables will not need to be changed, making this an effective long-term solution. The goal is to eventually install fiber-optic lines in homes and businesses across the entire city.

“Investing in our telecommunications infrastructure now will change Detroit’s economic trajectory for generations to come,” said Arthur Thompson, Chief Innovation Officer for the City of Detroit.

The idea for an automated open access network originated with a recommendation from Connect 313, a community partnership formed as part of a city-wide, data-driven inclusion strategy. The Rocket Community Fund, the Knight Foundation, and Connect Humanities provided funding for initial research, engineering, and network design.

Information and updates will be posted on the city’s Digital Inclusion & Equity page.