City Officials Open New Jamaica Gigabit Center Offering High-Speed ​​Internet Access to Help Bridge the Digital Divide –

LinkNYCin collaboration with the New York City Office of Technology and Innovation (TO COMPLETE), ZenFi Networks and community leaders, launched the Queens Gigabit Center at the Allen Community Senior Citizens Center in Jamaica on Friday, December 2.

New York City Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser joined LinkNYC CEO Nick Colvin and New York Aging Department Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez to announce the Queens Gigabit Center at a press conference held at the Center for seniors, located at 166-01 Linden Blvd.

The Gigabit Center, the first of its kind in Queens, offers free high-speed Internet access for all Queens residents, powered by LinkNYC’s public Wi-Fi network. The Gigabit Center will also provide digital literacy classes and free access to laptops, tablets, workstations and other services to help bridge the digital divide.

LinkNYC opened similar Gigabit centers in Manhattan and the Bronx earlier this year, and more centers are planned for Brooklyn and Staten Island in the coming months. These efforts come as 2 out of 5 households in New York City lack a home broadband connection or mobile broadband through cellular service, and 22% of Queens households lack a home broadband connection. Among New York seniors, 42% do not have broadband internet access from home.

(Photo by Jennifer Mullowney Studio Inc.)

“In Queens and throughout the city, millions of New Yorkers still find it too difficult or expensive to get online, which is simply unacceptable in 2022,” said Colvin. “Our Gigabit centers throughout New York City will play a critical role in connecting New Yorkers with the broadband connectivity and digital literacy they need to thrive in our online society. The opening of the Queens Gigabit Center marks another major milestone in our efforts to bring digital connectivity to New Yorkers across the five boroughs, and we are thrilled to bring this important resource to Queens residents.”

Earlier this year, OTI, in partnership with LinkNYC, started to take sides 2,000 next-generation Link5G kiosks providing New Yorkers in multiple neighborhoods with free high-speed Wi-Fi and even faster, more reliable 5G mobile broadband service. Additionally, installing fiber optic “backbone” infrastructure wherever LinkNYC kiosks are deployed makes it easier and more cost-effective for New Yorkers to get high-speed broadband Internet access at home.

(Photo by Jennifer Mullowney Studio Inc.)

According to Fraser, older New Yorkers have suffered avoidable social, health and economic hardship during the pandemic due to the city’s digital divide.

“With one-fifth of our city’s residents over the age of 60, this administration’s digital equity efforts are necessarily focused on improving the lives of this important population,” Fraser said. “This new Gigabit Center will serve as a vital hub for increasing access to free high-speed Internet, computers and digital literacy classes. I thank Mayor Adams for his unparalleled commitment to harnessing technology to ‘get things done’ for New Yorkers and our partners at CityBridge and the Allen Community Senior Citizens Center for their tireless efforts to provide empowerment opportunities in Queens.”

According to Cortés-Vázquez, with the expansion of online systems and the rapid growth of the population of older New Yorkers, there is a greater need for older adults to be savvy in navigating the digital world.

(Photo by Jennifer Mullowney Studio Inc.)

“The Queens Gigabit Center, located in the Allen Community Older Adult Center, is another major step forward in bridging the digital divide among those living in southeast Queens,” Cortés-Vázquez said. “I applaud our city’s Chief Technology Officer Matt Fraser, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and other key partners on their mutual commitment to narrowing the digital divide and creating an even more age-inclusive city.”

During the event, Hugh O’Kane Electric Company also announced a $5,000 donation to purchase senior tablets at the Allen Senior Center, ensuring they can stay connected to senior programs and services. The Center for Hearing and Communication has also offered free hearing screenings to seniors.

“Hugh O’Kane Electric is proud to have partnered with ZenFi since the inception of the LinkNYC project to bring broadband telecommunications services to all areas and boroughs of New York City as we continue to help bridge the digital divide,” said Hugh RO’ Kane, president, Hugh O’Kane Electric Co. Inc. “We are especially proud of our involvement in helping build the Queens Gig Center.”

Donna Atmore-Dolly, executive director of the Allen Community Senior Citizens Center, said she was thrilled to be selected as the CityBridge Gigabit Center in partnership with LinkNYC and ZenFi to deliver high-speed Internet service to the senior population in Southeast Queens .

“The COVID pandemic has caused many of our seniors to turn to virtual activities to stay active and social. Special thanks to Hugh O’Kane Electric Company for the generous donation of $5,000 towards the purchase of tablets for our seniors, ensuring they can stay connected to our senior programs and services,” said Atmore- Dolly.

(Photo by Jennifer Mullowney Studio Inc.)

Southeast Queens lawmakers thanked LinkNYC partners, OTI, the Allen Senior Center and all who made the new community resource a reality.

“In this era filled with advances in connectivity and technology, the digital divide is still leaving too many families behind, while worsening inequalities across the spectrum of society,” said Donovan Richards Jr., Queens Borough President. “Bridging that gap means connecting all of our families to countless economic, educational and community opportunities, and I look forward to all the good the Queens Gigabit Center will do for our district.”

Seniors are among the most digitally disconnected populations, according to Congresswoman Vivian Cook, an isolation that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Technology is not a luxury, it is a necessity. The Queens Gigabit Center will go a long way to helping bridge this digital divide and provide thousands of seniors across Queens with the access, education and services they need,” Cook said.

State Assemblywoman Vivian Cook (l.) (photo by Jennifer Mullowney Studio Inc.)

Senator Leroy Comrie said high-speed broadband provides access to information, resources and connectivity, all of which are crucial to collective civic life.

“The Queens Gigabit Center at Allen Senior Center will play an essential role in elevating technology literacy and help seniors take full advantage of online resources. I welcome this investment and the partnerships forged that will serve older adults well and our shared communities in Queens,” said Comrie.

Councilwoman Nantasha Williams said the center will provide a welcoming environment for elderly members of the community to explore current technological advances and provide them with access to computers, high-speed Internet and digital literacy classes.

“Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, this will be a safe space for our community members to create, learn and share,” said Williams. “In a city where millions of New Yorkers find it difficult to navigate the technological world, this space has a mission to foster a community where New Yorkers, especially older adults, have easier and cheaper ways to gain access to high speed broadband even at home. I am incredibly excited to have this center in the community and look forward to continued collaboration.”