Digital Philadelphia: what it is, what it means and what's standing in the way - Technical.ly Philly

Aug. 12, 2009 8:30 am

Digital Philadelphia: what it is, what it means and what’s standing in the way

Before Friday, the City of Philadelphia, specifically its division of technology, will submit a proposal to the federal government, asking for a big slice of at least $4.6 billion set aside for municipal broadband development. When city chief technology officer Allan Frank first announced his bold plan for a $100 million 10-year strategy, we were […]

Before Friday, the City of Philadelphia, specifically its division of technology, will submit a proposal to the federal government, asking for a big slice of at least $4.6 billion set aside for municipal broadband development.

When city chief technology officer Allan Frank first announced his bold plan for a $100 million 10-year strategy, we were surprised no other news organization in this the fourth largest media market in the country seemed to care. And as it turns out, Allan Frank has corrected us: that $100 million is just for the internal IT overhaul alone. Oh, the things you find out when you hit the streets.

So, we’d like to introduce a large package on Frank’s Digital Philadelphia plan. Go and explore just what your city government is spending so much time pursuing.

Follow this link for the full report, or continue reading about the project after the jump.

Intrepid reporter Brian James Kirk has spent months of time and hours of interviews tracking the details of a plan that seems ethereal at times, compiling a 3,500-word feature on just what the program is and represents, in addition to handling the package’s design and interactive Flash timeline. He also collected perspectives from nearly a dozen high-profile and involved Philadelphia officials on just what their digital future would look like.

But in a city known for doubting dreams, our coverage would be incomplete and dishonest if it didn’t follow how the failure of another bold municipal technology initiative in the past — Wireless Philadelphia — affects how Digital Philadelphia will be seen in the present and carried out in the future. So, our package includes coverage of that, written by reporter Christopher Wink.

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The package’s platform was coded and assigned by staffer Sean Blanda, while on vacation in New Hampshire no less.

This is the type of long-form, oversight journalism we’d like to do more of and a reason why we’re pursuing a sustainable business structure, something we’ll be touching on this afternoon.

But first: Digital Philadelphia: The city could become a center for technology innovation… if we can just forget about Wireless Philadelphia.

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