Only a few years ago no one would have called the clearing below hills of miami metro rail Not to mention particularly attractive and transformative. But today, the city is reimagining this 10-mile corridor of his as a dynamic linear park. Underline. The park features walking trails, cycling infrastructure, local art, and provides free, uninterrupted high-speed internet to approximately 250,000 residents and 9 million transit users.

People often visit parks and other outdoor public spaces run away Underlined is part of the movement to leverage technology. “Community-Centric Technology” Transform public spaces into more accessible, inclusive and responsive community assets, while providing more residents with critical public services of free high-speed internet and technological innovation. In a city like Miami, 30% or more of households no internet accessthe possibility of using public spaces to bridge the digital divide is particularly ripe.

Underlined Recent Phase 1 Openings A half-mile stretch known as “Brickell Backyard” provides important lessons about the role technology can play in transforming public spaces and encouraging more residents to participate in civic life. .

Miami, Florida Underline Oolite Room and SW 13th crosswalk

Why Embed Technology in Public Space?

public spaces are always act as a hub To gather, bond with neighbors, and build attachments to place. At first, these key functions seem at odds with technology’s role in today’s digital world. social division When lonelinessBut more and more charities and government agencies are recognizing the potential of incorporating technology into public spaces. Not only does this increase residents’ access to technology, it also draws more residents into public spaces and thus into the civic life of neighborhoods and cities. .

Charities like the Knight Foundation have championed using technology to connect people and places, and piloting new innovations in public spaces around civic engagement, climate, arts and more. In 2019, the foundation provided her $925,000 investment in Underline, created a technology master plan, and hired a Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Operating Officer. The public sector has also been a key partner with Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami, the State of Florida, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and others. funding Underlines for construction, park facilities, and features such as water fountains, bike repair stations, column signs, and Wi-Fi facilities.

Public and private sector stakeholders cite the benefits of embedding technology in public spaces as:

  • Bridging the Digital Divide in NeighborhoodsThe first benefit of incorporating technology into public spaces is the most obvious. By installing free, high-speed Wi-Fi in public community spaces, cities can increase access to the digital tools they need to succeed in school, work, and life.this is Fundamentally stock issues In cities across the United States (including Miami), the digital divide is disproportionately affecting black, Latinx or Hispanic households, as well as those with lower incomes and education. As long as broadband Internet subscriptions remain out of reach for a large portion of the population, public spaces such as parks, libraries and community centers will continue to grow as residents access the connectivity needed in today’s digital world. can act as a resource for Wi-Fi wasn’t originally planned for Underline, but the community of Friends of the Underline’s outreach efforts have enabled him to build multimodal corridors that truly connect people and places. It became clear that we needed to look beyond the regulated environment. In one of the most digitally accessible cities in the state, residents want us to create a new kind of civic sharing centered around equitable access to technology as part of our core mission. Encouraged us to transform the space in the facility.
  • Measure who is using your space to meet your inclusiveness goals. High investment in public spaceshave clear social cohesion goals It brings together a diverse range of residents, provides social opportunities, and increases the attachment of residents to their place of residence. But these objectives can only be realized if all residents are welcome, have physical access to spaces, and have too many public areas. Failing to achieve the goals of cohesion and inclusionFor this reason, place management organizations across the country have begun to work. Use web-based tools to collect and store park usage data Compare park-user demographics and postal codes to the city as a whole (often obtained from observational or wiretapping surveys). The Underline also uses technology to gauge the representativeness of its spaces, paying particular attention to zip code data to ensure parks are accessible to residents in underinvested and underresourced areas.
  • Expand who can engage and provide feedback on spacesA robust and representative community engagement The cornerstone of placemaking, but when planning or designing public spaces, community members have little follow-through or repeated involvement, even if they are involved at the beginning of the project. can be a powerful tool forFor example, through a free app where you can provide feedback, or Interactive data collection and mapping exercisesAs such, Underline is creating a digital forum for park users to provide real-time feedback about the space.

Underline’s physical to digital connections

Accomplishing the city’s mission to transform Underline into a new kind of civic commons with community-centric technology wasn’t easy. Wi-Fi infrastructure had to withstand extreme weather conditions in isolated outdoor spaces, and fiber optic technology partner Hotwire Communications had to deploy multiple different access points across 10 miles of straight terrain. . After two years of construction, the first stage of the park could be constructed with 11 he Wi-Fi access points designed to cover 200 people per point.

The park’s first phase, a half-mile lot called “Brickell Backyard,” opened in February 2021 and has since hosted over one million visitors and over 120 free community programs. Friends of the Underline also identified additional ways to embed technology within parks, including a new educational mobile app, Dig & Learn (developed by Miami Animation and Gaming International Complex at Miami Dade College). Diversity, history and natural assets.We have also hired the park’s Chief Innovation Officer to provide additional capacity to advance our development. Technical master planoutlines forward-looking goals for using technology for climate resilience, artistic engagement, and other important functions.

Miami’s journey to create new public and virtual civic commons is just beginning. We plan to add more than 75 access points across 10 miles of outdoor space to provide ubiquitous high-speed Internet access and reach even more residents and transit users. Despite the initial hurdle, Underline believes that big ideas can be mobilized, funded, and implemented in ways that create positive change for both underutilized urban spaces and members of the surrounding communities. Prove it.

Photo credit: Sam Orberter 2022


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