Last November, Technically Philly, our publication about the technology community in the Philadelphia region, was awarded a $5,000 grant from J-Lab, a journalism innovation foundation at American University, to help inform the creation of Philadelphia’s comprehensive city planning vision Philadelphia2035. We saw an opportunity to do research and provide perspective about the importance of broadband infrastructure as a vital public utility in the city’s future. We continue to work on the project, but here’s an update on its progress.
- Most importantly, Technically Philly and PlanPhilly were able to collaborate with the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, and were able to meet our most distinct output of the grant award. The final Philadelphia2035 report now includes a section in the utility section that articulates the value of broadband as a vital public utility. We saw our editorial process as an extension of the Commission’s public comment collection. We marketed the idea of submitting public comment for broadband to our readers and to other technology stakeholders that we’re connected with, which helped us draft preliminary bullet points for the plan which we submitted to the Commission. The Commission tells us that they then began interfacing with several other technology leaders formally for their input. We think it was a unique and valued approach to traditional journalism, where we acted as facilitators of information and as collaborators of action.
- During Philly Tech Week, director Alan Urek of the Planning Commission presented at our daily brown bag lunch series to several dozen registered attendees, and there were a number of questions about broadband and its inclusion in the plan.
- On the content side: Two long-form pieces are published on both sites but a total of 8 stories, including short-form content, have been published at Technically Philly. The combined traffic has reached more than 1,000 unique visitors, which we’re happy to report given the extremely niche intersection between city planning and broadband infrastructure.
- We still have a handful of pieces left, including a final exploration of several Philadelphia neighborhoods and the impact of broadband there. Our original intent to explore several specific Philadelphia neighborhoods has been altered now that the Commission has released a time table for the more neighborhood-specific district planning process involved in the next step of Philadelphia2035. We want to help inform those district studies and see the impact there and to explore whether or not helping to guide the rest of the district planning process could be valuable. The neighborhood explorations is where the project will see video and photo multimedia more prominently included in the journalistic packages.
- We’re now pressing on the data and mapping element of the project. We’ve made some unique connections with academics working on similar projects and will be able to thoughtfully explore the remainder of this project. We anticipate completion in August.