PROJECT: urban design proposal, hour city design competition
TEAM: michaela kramer & leonore snoek
LOCATION: bronx & catskills, ny
THEMES: urban-rural linkages, economic development, broadband access, mesh networks, community technology
RECOGNITION: semi-finalist - hour city design competition
UR Connect aims to strengthen linkages between urban and rural communities and establish new connections for shared economic, social and political prosperity. UR Connect–shorthand for Urban Rural Connections–is a community-driven internet service cooperative that builds digital equity in the Catskills and the South Bronx. At present, populations in the Catskills and the South Bronx are facing a digital exclusion crisis, with far reaching consequences on economic opportunities, public health, environmental resiliency and participation in the social and political realms. The failure of the market and state to provide equal access to this 21st century basic utility illustrates the need to radically rethink current approaches to internet access.
UR Connect approaches broadband connection not as an individual consumer good but rather as a tool for social exchanges and economic prosperity. Localized mesh networks, centralized educational hubs and a cooperative structure allow UR Connect members to support online and offline development in their communities.The outcome opens opportunities for new connections of solidarity between rural and urban communities.