US Ignite Smart Gigabit Cities

US Ignite announced in June 2016 the creation of a national network of Smart Gigabit Communities. Each of the fifteen communities in the network—including Urbana-Champaign—has made a significant commitment toward levering next-generation smart city and internet technologies to keep pace with the world’s rapidly changing technology and economy.  Funded by the National Science Foundation and private sector partners, this three-year award will bring together researchers, community leaders, governments, entrepreneurs and others in each of the chosen testbed communities to develop two gigabit applications or gigabit public services that provide advanced technology solutions to issues faced by that community. Participating cities also agree to share those applications with the other Smart Gigabit Communities. Gigabit applications take advantage of the 100x increase in Internet power that comes from deploying gigabit Internet access to homes, small businesses, healthcare facilities, schools, libraries, and museums.

Illini Gadget Garage

Funded by the UI Student Sustainability Committee, the Gadget Garage is a collaborative electronics repair center for University of Illinois student and staff owned devices.  A collaboration among the Sustainability Electronics Initiative, the UI School of Art and Design, and the ISchool, Gadget Garage’s goals are to a) extend the useful life of products; b) provide experiential learning for students through associated classes, volunteering, and participation in the iFixit Technical Writing Project; and c) to empower people to see do-it-yourself repair as a viable option for addressing minor damage and performance issues.  

Digital Innovation Leadership Program (DILP)

The Digital Innovation Leadership Program (DILP) is a two-year grant provided through the University of Illinois Office of the Provost and Illinois Extension and Outreach Initiative. The main goal of DILP is to engage the state of Illinois through local communities and partnerships to expand the potential for entrepreneurship, innovation, economic development, digital inclusion, and social development. To achieve these goals, DILP focuses on: 1) Provide hands on training in digital manufacturing, digital media production, and data analytics; 2) Deliver training to communities in Illinois through partnerships with Extension; and 3) Provide resources to build capacity for communities to sustain digital literacy initiatives.  

Stephen Willats and the Performance of Information Flows

In the 1970s, artist Stephen Willats explored participation and interaction within an art context. He created the means to collect, sort, code, process, and use data to foster exchanges, essentially performing information flows using computers to help examine social systems. His Edinburgh Social Model Construction Project (1973) and Meta Filter (1973-75) enacted exchanges of information among groups, instantiating Willats’s cybernetic way of thinking. CDI Project Coordinator Sharon Irish is currently writing a book on Willats’ work, and delivered two talks during an April 2016 visit to the UK.  

Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B)

UC2B started as a grant supported through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, called the Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program (BTOP).  During the grant period (2010-2012) UC2B was a collaboration between the University of Illinois and the cities of Urbana and Champaign in order to provide broadband to local community anchor institutions and underserved and unserved households. Since the conclusion of the grant, UC2B became a not-for-profit agency that supports the development of a fiber-optic broadband network in the Urbana-Champaign area. Our gigabit fiber-optic network is built on the most state-of-the-art communication technology infrastructure on the planet.

Digital Literacy for All Learners

Funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Digital Literacy for All Learners project serves to foster digital literacy skills and computational thinking for all learners, with special focus on families from low socio-economic status households. National initiatives have raised awareness of the importance of developing innovative approaches to digital literacy and computational thinking, especially within elementary and middle schools. Success is further advanced when parents, caregivers, and neighbors are also able to collaborate in education.

Mapping Information Access 

Mapping Information Access is a collaborative academic research project to study and understand the landscape of information access and availability in public schools and libraries in the United States. CDI Faculty Affiliate Dr. Emily Knox is one of the principal investigators.