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How San Rafael, Calif., Built a Wi-Fi Network During a Pandemic

June 17, 2020

Government Technology Magazine article by Zach Quaintance

Officials in the San Rafael tech shop were able to build a mesh Wi-Fi network to connect students in the dense Canal Neighborhood with the help of volunteer expertise and funding from across sectors.

San Rafael, Calif., is in the process of launching a new mesh Wi-Fi network for one of its most densely populated neighborhoods, doing so as a response to the COVID-19 crisis. The overarching goal is to ensure that residents there — particularly students — are able to get online.

Omar Carrera is the CEO of the Canal Alliance, a nonprofit group that works to help the neighborhood and its large population of immigrants. He has been working on digital equity in the Canal Neighborhood for nearly 16 years, having previously worked with the group as a technology instructor.

Carrera said that over the years he has seen device ownership rates in the area improve as tech like smartphones and Chromebooks have become cheaper and more accessible. He has also seen tech skills improve among residents as those same devices have steadily become more intuitive, evolving quite a long way from the days of single color screens, no mouse and DOS. But the one piece that has remained a challenge is connectivity. 

Read the full article in Government Technology Magazine

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