Creating Energy Efficiency and Broadband Access in Our Increasingly Digital World
June 1, 2012
This week, the Center for Innovation Technology at the Brookings Institution held a forum on the future of energy efficiency and how it relates to the digital age. A panel of some of the leading experts in broadband technology discussed how best to create energy efficiency and wireless access for all.Video from the event is available here. You can view more about the forum on Twitter using the hashtag #TechCTI.
One of the fundamental points made during the forum by panelist Pietro S. Nivola, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, is that it is important to recognize that the solutions to bridge the digital divide and to create real widespread energy efficiency are not going to be found in Washington. Rather, many of the problems with energy efficiency and broadband growth are found at the state and local level and can only be remedied there. Luckily, here in San Francisco we have a community that has taken advantage of all that the information age has to offer, and we are working to close the digital divide for good. From environmental technology to Government 2.0, San Franciscans are on the cutting edge of the digital universe.
GoSolarSF and DataSF – San Francisco’s Secrets to Success
Two standout examples of San Francisco’s leadership in the fields of Internet technology and energy efficiency are GoSolarSF and DataSF. GoSolarSF, which was launched in 2008 and co-founded by Reset San Francisco Founder Phil Ting, gives individuals and businesses incentives to install energy-saving solar panels on their roofs and to make other related energy efficient upgrades. GoSolarSF has helped thousands of San Francisco’s homes and businesses go green, created green-collar jobs and attracted several environmental technology companies to come to the city. Unfortunately, due to San Francisco’s current budget crisis, GoSolarSF is in danger of having its funding drastically cut. [Last year as a Reset Community, we helped save GoSolarSF. Watch the video here.]
San Francisco’s city government has also encouraged its citizens to get into the Internet technology game. In 2009 the city launched DataSF.org, a website designed to increase government transparency and access to city data. Citizens can even create apps from the city’s data. Since the launch of DataSF, several useful apps have been developed that do everything from allowing residents to view buildings that are equipped with solar power and then read about the installed systems, to aiding commuters in navigating the Bay Area’s extensive public transit systems.
Universal Internet Access for All San Franciscans
San Francisco’s city government has also been working to ensure that all of its residents are able to reap the benefits of the digital age. In 2009, the San Francisco Community Broadband Opportunities Program (SF-CBOP) was created with the goal of providing broadband-oriented training to the city’s seniors, adults in residential treatment, low-income, ESL youth and other economically and socially vulnerable demographics.
As of late 2011, the program has held digital literacy training for more than 1,600 San Franciscans to teach them valuable skills like web design, digital filmmaking and content creation techniques. The city has also provided some of its neighborhood community centers, like the Sunset Beacon Center and Western Addition Neighborhood Beacon Center with new computer workstations. Cool.
Innovation is the Key to Unlocking Our Potential
Reaching the goal of creating and sustaining energy efficiency and widespread broadband access for all is a monumental task that requires participation from both our government and regular citizens in order to be successful. Here in San Francisco, we must continue to keep innovating and using technology to stay ahead of the curve and to ensure that no one gets left behind in the digital age.
If you missed the Brookings Event, you can watch the full video online here: http://www.brookings.edu/events/2012/05/30-broadband-energy