connect / 2015

The Digital District: A 21st Century Neighborhood of Los Angeles

The Digital District: A 21st Century Neighborhood of Los Angeles

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Impact Hub Los Angeles

In an effort to improve civic engagement and community involvement, Impact Hub Los Angeles is proposing a centrally-organized, interactive public wifi network in the Arts District that will disseminate civic updates, provide information about events and help coordinate large-scale community-based initiatives.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Arts District

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Mobilize for systems change
  • Implement and track policy
  • Provide a coordinated mobile infrastructure for large-scale community-based initiatives

How will your proposal improve the following “Connect” metrics?

  • Rates of volunteerism
  • Voting rates by race
  • Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
  • Attendance at cultural events
  • Participation in neighborhood councils
  • Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)
  • Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)
  • Total number of local social media friends and connections (Dream Metric)
  • Attendance at public/open streets gatherings (Dream Metric)
  • Residential segregation (Dream Metric)
  • Access to free wifi (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to connect.

Los Angeles is a paradox; the vibrant metropolitan region boasting the fourth largest economy in the nation is also home to one of the most dismal levels of civic participation in the country with record breaking low voter turnout. Despite being filled with conscientious consumers, entrepreneurs, activists and advocates Los Angeles is a vacuum of civic engagement.

According to the LA2050 Vision for a Successful Los Angeles Report, only 22 percent of Los Angeles-area residents formally volunteer on annual basis and only 9 percent ever make it out to the voting polls. A staggering 49 percent of Angelenos have reported never voting in local elections at all. Participation in Neighborhood Councils meetings are declining, subscriptions to local newspapers are diminishing and community centered events are happening with less frequency and urgency.

In an effort to improve civic engagement and community involvement, Impact Hub Los Angeles is proposing a centrally-organized, interactive public wifi network in the Arts District that will provide civic updates, disseminate information about events, and help coordinate large-scale community-based initiatives.

Impact Hub LA would install 13 access points throughout the Arts District, LA River Basin and Skid Row which would create a centrally managed public wifi mesh network - The Digital District - focused on improving civic engagement.

Access to the Digital District’s free wifi requires user registration and participation in live polling of current, real-time issues/policies/legislative initiatives concerning Los Angeles. Impact Hub LA will then collect that information and leverage a membership community of 300 social entrepreneurs in addressing local community issues. This will allow Impact Hub LA to create a physical and virtual Town Hall for individuals to gather and crowdsource issues from the Digital District and provide a mobile based tool that will serve as a project accelerator.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Evaluation will happen on three levels: 1. The effectiveness of digital campaigns for civic updates; 2. Attendance rates for cultural events and Impact Hub LA’s Town Halls 3. Project management for the community-based initiatives that originated from those Town Halls on Networked Capital’s mobile tool, Rep.

By way of the public wireless signal, individuals are authenticated by providing contact information allowing for the Digital District to inform people of relevant local issues utilizing the wifi as an outreach opportunity.

From initial contact, the sign in process presents each individual with a registration splash page which also displays either a daily initiative of the area, a civic update, or a small question for immediate polling which is captured and entered into a campaign management database. As each person uses the wifi on a frequent basis, their interaction with either the initiatives, civic engagement and informal polling is analyzed.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research