Technology

Chapel Hill may disband two boards

I was pretty shocked to read today that Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy has written a memo to the Town Council proposing that they should end the Horace Williams Citizen's Committee (old web site, new web site). Just a few months ago, I helped to draft a plan for how the HWCC would proceed in the next year or two to study some of the issues surrounding Carolina North and to make recommendations on them to the Town Council.

In all of the discussion of Ken Broun's new committee to advise UNC's leaders, it has always been made clear that the HWCC would still exist to advise Chapel Hill's leaders. I have not seen any change in situation that would mean we don't need this service any longer. This decision would be a major reversal and it deserves more explanation than the Mayor has given.

Community Municipal Networks: One Size Does Not Fit All

Equal access to the Internet and technical literacy is recognized by many to be a key to success in the Twenty-first century. We use these resources to obtain a good education, find a job, conduct business, be creative, obtain news, socialize, be civically involved, communicate globally, and more. This isn't to say that traditional methods of doing these things are useless or that the Internet is a magic elixir. It's just that technology can really help us.

There are many ways to provide equal access to the Internet. Each holds its advantages. The trouble is each method, by itself, can not serve everyone equally. We all have unique needs and use the Internet differently.

Here are some use examples:

Fresh leadership on technology

Mike Nelson's campaign for County Commissioner is demonstrating leadership on tech issues the likes of which we have not seen before in Orange County. I have proposed to Mike (and to other candidates) that Orange County should sponsor a technology summit for municipal staff and county residents to discuss how technology can serve us better.

The County Commissioners should look for a new manager who ‘gets it' when it comes to using technology in new and creative ways to deliver services more efficiently. In my experience, you have to have a leader at the top who understands what questions to ask and who understands that innovations can be put to work to improve public service and to reduce the costs of delivering those services. Additionally, technology can be used to provide our citizens with more information in a timelier manner.
- Nelson for Commissioner: Using Technology in New and Better Ways

Public (Not Private) Internet Access for Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill provides many public services to its citizens. Over the years we've recognized the importance for all people to have equal access to basic necessities like water, sewer, electricity, telephone, transportation, roads, sidewalks, parks, etc. (The ones the town doesn't directly provide the state regulates.) As the town moves into the twenty-first century we find that other types of access are just as important, especially in the new global economies.

One of those new types of access is Internet access. (Wi-Fi is one way to access information on the Internet.) It is steady stream of information that allows people to do all kinds of valuable and important things. In only a few years we have seen this access move from a mere toy to an extremely valuable tool. Very soon Internet access will be more than a tool but a resource that we all can not live without.

Sign the Free Public WiFi Petition

In an effort to bring a free public WiFi network to Chapel Hill and to let our elected representatives know how we feel I've created an online petition.

To: Chapel Hill Town Council

The time has come for the Town of Chapel Hill to build a free, community-owned, public municipal network. The network should have wireless access and provide an open, unfiltered, and unmonitored connection to the Internet available to ALL people. It must be maintained by a local nonprofit for the people of Chapel Hill. Not by a private business or corporation.

We request that the Chapel Hill Town Council act swiftly to bring this service to the people.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

It will be presented to the Town Council as soon as posible. If you are a citizen of Chapel Hill please go to http://www.petitiononline.com/chwifi/petition.html and sign it. Thank you!

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