Network hopes: Municipalities deploying wireless internet to increase civic engagement

Andrea H. Tapia, Julio Angel Ortiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


In this work, the authors examine four cases of municipalities that have attempted to create municipal-sponsored wireless broadband networks. In each of these cases, one of the reasons given for establishing the network was to engage the citizens in their community and government. In each of these cases, the efforts have failed in some way. This problem rests on several assumptions. First, these municipalities believe in the importance and need to increase civic engagement, public participation in local government. They also believe that one way to do this is through increasing access to broadband Internet. In this article, we argue against a simplistic, deterministic, utopian view of information and communication technologies. We argue that in the case of local governments, choices made by government officials to solve social problems with technology are often made out of hope, frustration, inadequate funding, and inadequate knowledge. These public technology projects are often met with failure and often lead to further distance and mistrust between local governments, public officials, and citizens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-117
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Science Computer Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Law


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