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The Look Ahead: Jason Hardebeck, Baltimore City director of broadband and digital equity

In the latest episode of Technical.ly Baltimore's video series exploring lessons from the pandemic year, we chat with Hardebeck about city government's role in providing internet connectivity for its residents, and staying competitive in the digital economy.

(Technical.ly Image)
Although the title is still relatively new for Jason Hardebeck, the role is not.

A longtime entrepreneur and tech community leader in Baltimore, Hardebeck entered city government in 2015 as the broadband coordinator in the administration of former mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. In March, he was named the City’s first director of broadband and digital equity — a new position created under Mayor Brandon Scott. For Hardebeck, the goal has always been to increase opportunity for the residents of Baltimore through internet connectivity. Today, with the city’s existing divide and a pandemic that has brought it in focus, the urgency of digital access has never been more evident, requiring the how of broadband and the why of digital equity to be closely linked in Hardebeck’s work.

The video conversation with Hardebeck shown below delves into his first 100 days in office, the progress he’s made and how internet connectivity took on a new meaning in 2020. We also chat about the role of government, and specifically Baltimore City government, in closing the digital divide. Hardebeck offered insight on what makes Baltimore uniquely equipped to tackle the gap in digital access and how he thinks the city can become a major player in the digital economy.

“If a city government is not actively thinking today, about how they’re going to build a municipal fiber network to the premise, meaning every address in the city has [a fiber connection], they’re not going to be globally competitive,” said Hardebeck.

Check out the full interview below, and find more episodes of The Look Ahead here:

Here’s the audio version:

Watch our conversation here:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=248rB-XTwZY]

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
Companies: City of Baltimore
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