WeCAN (Wireless Empowered Community Access Network) is the City of Houston’s Digital Inclusion Initiative, established by Mayor Bill White to bridge the digital divide. WeCAN is managed by the Houston Public Library. For more information on this program, please visit the WeCan web site.
The Digital Inclusion Initiative began as a part of former Mayor Bill White’s citywide wireless project and is now being implemented by The Houston Public Library. WeCAN was established under the White administration to bridge the digital divide. The vision for WeCAN is to create a digital future for Houstonians through a digital literacy effort that will focus on drop-out prevention/GED recovery and job/workforce readiness in support of achieving Houston’s educational, workforce and economic goals.
Through the launch of the WeCAN, Houston has a unique opportunity to reshape its technological landscape and serve as a catalyst for positive change in support of a digitally empowered and inclusive city. The citywide initiative will:
- Include an education and awareness campaign that focuses on accelerating the adoption of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT);
- Include community resource portals, ICT-based development opportunities and expansion of technology community access locations within neighborhoods;
- Leverage the full environment of technologies, providers, vendors and institutions to achieve success;
- Allocate and distribute resources guided by a working body of stakeholders from business, education, health, community and government; and,
- Require individual and organizational investment (i.e. monetary/in-kind match, train the trainer commitment, volunteerism, etc.).
The build-out includes deployment of neighborhood networks which include broadband Internet, education, training, equipment, and content development for 10 high-need neighborhoods through the Wireless Empowered Community Access Network (WeCAN). Based on preliminary community needs assessment, the full implementation of
WeCAN calls for a total of over 25 super neighborhood networks established citywide, with plans for the 10 established over the next two-and-a-half-years. WeCAN will provide high-need neighborhoods with affordable Internet access, local content, and opportunities to receive training and equipment at community locations to ensure that Houstonians can benefit from the use of technology. These offerings will be available in qualified community access locations including city facilities such as multi-service centers and park community centers, as well as schools and community-based organizations. Up to 15 community access locations will be established per neighborhood with up to 375 established across the digital inclusion network citywide.
As opposed to using the City's general fund (tax payer dollars), WeCAN is funded by corporate sponsorships, grants, and other donations.
The initiative is governed by the City's Human Service and Technology Development Committee. The Committee considers strategies to achieve digital inclusion for all Houstonians and to improve access to human services throughout the community, with special focus on serving Youth and Seniors.
For additional information regarding the City of Houston’s Digital Inclusion Initiative, WeCAN, please call the Houston Public Library reference line at 832.393.1313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.