Digital Excellence—Trust in Chicago's Future

We, Chicago, are at a crossroads.

We have decided to deploy a citywide wireless network in our aspirations as a world class global city. We are preparing to transform ourselves for leadership in the new Millennium.

Make no mistake about this wireless initiative: this is about jobs. Economic development is integrally tied to the quality of life and the character of the city we want.

In 2006, we took a giant leap forward through public hearings convened by the Mayor's Advisory Council on Closing the Digital Divide and in the language of the Wireless Request For Proposal. Not only does that text formally recognize the significance of the Divide to the civic and economic life of all Chicagoans, it also requires Wireless Vendors to propose a Digital Inclusion Plan, to be implemented and funded by their operations as a contractual obligation to the City.

We've almost got it right. But it is time to speak from the values and expertise of our communities. Let's start with a bold vision and not with an afterthought.

We settle for no small plans.

Digital Excellence is the strategy and end we must keep clearly in focus. Chicago will set a new standard. Digital Inclusion is not enough. It sets the bar too low for our dreams.

No Vendor can lead Chicago to Digital Excellence. Nor can they draft a plan without direct public involvement. Neither Digital Excellence nor Inclusion are within their core competence.

Achieving Digital Excellence requires ongoing community participation, recognized expertise in the field of digital literacy and an integrated strategy grounded in the needs and aspirations of the people. Digital Excellence will not be attained as a digital afterthought of the Vendors to the Wireless network.

We want a Community Benefits Agreement for Digital Excellence.

We, the people of Chicago, propose the Wireless Community Benefits Agreement as an integrated strategy for Digital Excellence, firmly grounded in the ambitions of the city-wide wireless initiative.

Only with the Community Benefits Agreement shall the Network be an Engine for Economic Development for all Chicago neighborhoods. This engine depends upon the values and character designed into the network at the outset. We safeguard our future through direct investment in a community governed Trust rather than reliance on the strategic maneuvers of any one Vendor.

Digital Excellence and the Community Governed Trust require long-term investment.

Investment in a Digital Excellence Trust and in local models of the next generation of community technology, media and development centers coordinates actions so that people everywhere will be:

Confidently using collaborative tools
Cultivating their voice by expression in media of their choice
Creating and extending tools to their own purpose
Chicagoans working to make the Chicago we want.

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