Boston is the second municipality in the United States to hire full time staff  tasked with increasing digital equity. Anne Schweiger was hired as the City of Boston’s Broadband and Digital Equity Advocate in December 2015.

The only other municipality with dedicated full-time staff is Seattle. The City of Seattle has four (yes four!) full-time staff in the Seattle Community Technology Program. Other cities have staff who’s job includes digital equity (such as Minneapolis).

Alternatively, some cities support staff located outside of the municipality (such as Charlotte). The City of Austin has been providing financial support to the non-profit Austin FreeNet since 1995. (Yes, 1995!) 

Here’s the job description of Boston’s Broadband and Digital Equity Advocate.

Broadband is essential infrastructure for the 21st century. But for too many of our residents and businesses, service is too slow, too expensive, or simply not available. Fast broadband is key to economic and educational opportunity, it connects our worldclass universities and hospitals, and it is the engine that powers our digital economy.

We need to improve broadband in the City of Boston, and we need someone to lead the effort. The City is open to all solutions, from stimulating the private market to building public broadband infrastructure.

The City of Boston’s Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) is hiring a Broadband and Digital Equity Advocate to lead policy and planning initiatives aimed at increasing broadband affordability and availability, and providing all Boston residents with the skills and resources they need to connect.

Key responsibilities:

  • Research and make recommendations for strategies to encourage broadband availability and affordability, such as:
    • Regulatory changes
    • Development or tax incentives
    • Municipal / “middle mile” network building
    • Solicitation of private market entrants through RFP or RFI
    • Leveraging City owned broadband resources (fiber, conduit, facilities, etc.) for commercial or public use
  • Become fully familiar with the residential and business broadband market in Boston.
  • Develop a clear articulation of City’s broadband and digital equity policy objectives, and providing regular internal and external communication about our work in this area.
  • Engage local stakeholders (government, business, public, institutional), both formally and informally to understand their needs and goals.
  • Provide project planning leadership on any strategies adopted by the City
  • Work closely with other City agencies that have a role in broadband and digital equity, such as the Boston Public Schools, Economic Development, and Public Works Department.
  • Plan and participate in public events focused on broadband and digital equity.
  • Represent the City with various local and national broadband policy organizations.
  • Track relevant state and federal legislation and rulemaking, and identify opportunities for advocacy by the City on behalf of our policy aims.

Skills Required:

  • Excellent written, verbal, and presentation skills
  • Experience researching and analyzing complex, technical policy topics
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate with diverse audiences about such topics
  • Ability to complete projects efficiently and independently with minimal supervision
  • Strong organizational and project management skills
  • Energy, creativity, and entrepreneurship
  • Bachelors degree in public policy, urban planning, or related field
  • At least 2 years of work in government, advocacy, or nonprofit on policy issues.

Skills Preferred:

  • Masters degree in public policy, urban planning, or related field.
  • At least 5 years of work in government, advocacy, or nonprofit on policy issues.
  • Familiarity with broadband technologies and the evolving broadband policy landscape.
  • Experience planning and leading public engagement opportunities, such as public forums and comment solicitations.

Here’s a PDF of Boston’s Broadband and Digital Equity Advocate job description.

Anne Schweiger, City of Boston Broadband and Digital Equity Advocate Anne Schweiger, City of Boston Broadband and Digital Equity Advocate