Guest op-ed: City Hall must stop widening the digital divide, expand LinkNYC to southern Brooklyn


For the last few years, New Yorkers have become accustomed to hearing promises from City Hall about programs and services that all of the city’s residents will benefit from.

The administration has proclaimed that many of these services are available to everyone, but in practice, that doesn’t seem to be entirely accurate. One glaring example is the case of the LinkNYC program.

The concept is a welcome one: Fast, free Wi-Fi, phone calls, device charging and access to city services, maps and directions offered through ‘Links’ placed at various locations around the city.

Yet these impressive services are only available in some areas of the city, while completely absent in others. There are currently 1,513 active Link locations, and another 241 that have been installed but are still waiting for internet hookups.

However, here in southern Brooklyn, there are zero Link locations.

In fact, there are zero Links in Brooklyn south of a Flatbush Avenue location just outside the campus of Brooklyn College.

That means no fast or free Wi-Fi in Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Sea Gate, Gravesend, Brighton Beach, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Sheepshead Bay, Borough Park, Sunset Park, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park or Midwood.

Neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Canarsie, East New York, and Brownsville also feature little or no LinkNYC presence.

Failing to extend the LinkNYC program to these neighborhoods is furthering the digital divide, leaving communities full of working families and immigrants behind in a world that increasingly relies on technology, mobile devices and the internet for fulfillment of job or school-related responsibilities and daily routine tasks.

Yet, as much as technology has become a driving force in our lives, for many, the cost continues to be prohibitive.

Internet services are not cheap, and neither are internet-capable devices. Meanwhile, internet access can be critical when looking for employment, researching for academic purposes, medical services, banking or other financial services, and news and information. Many an employer requires employees to be available electronically, too.

I believe strongly that your zip code should not be a determining factor in what opportunities are made available to you.

You deserve reliable, reasonable public transit options, no matter what part of the city you live in. Your children should have the same opportunities to receive a quality education as children in any other part of the city.

And in 2018, in the increasingly electronic world that, more and more, we have little option but to be a part of, free Wi-Fi and mobile services should be available in all parts of the city, not just some.

City Councilmember Mark Treyger represents the 47th Council District in Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Gravesend and Sea Gate.

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