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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Citizens urged to complete survey for ‘Smart Island’ broadband access initiative


Enrique Völckers Nin

By The Star Staff


After a million-dollar federal allocation for Puerto Rico that will enable the construction of broadband infrastructure necessary to close the digital divide on the island, the government has created the Smart Island program that seeks to develop and maximize initiatives in key areas to achieve high-speed internet in Puerto Rico.


“At this early stage of the program, it is important to define what the specific needs of each municipality are,” said Enrique Völckers Nin, the La Fortaleza official in charge of government innovation, information, data and technology, in a written statement. “For this reason it is necessary to identify, through citizens, those key points that allow us to develop the 5-year Strategic Plan required by the Puerto Rico Broadband Program (PRBP), which will guarantee that the funds allocated to Puerto Rico are used within the established terms and will ensure that the broadband infrastructure necessary to close the digital divide on the island is built promptly.”


One of the methods to determine and identify the specific needs of citizens is through the Internet Service survey, which Völckers Nin said will help, among other things, the government determine if the person has an internet connection in their homes (and the download speed of the connection), skills in online activities such as using the computer or tablet, skills to conduct government transactions online, knowledge of what information is safe to share online, among other things, and would help identify what people in Puerto Rico primarily use the internet for.


“This survey is available in www.smartisland.pr.gov/ survey and will reveal information that will help us in the planning and development of the necessary strategies to coordinate, authorize and execute the disbursement of local and federal funds allocated to Puerto Rico for the construction of broadband infrastructure on the island,” Völckers Nin added. “It is important that citizens complete this survey to help us develop the various initiatives that we will be developing through the PRBP that will reduce the digital divide on the island.”


For the past few months, personnel assigned to the Smart Island program have participated in the “Fortaleza por Puerto Rico” initiative in which government services are brought directly to the municipalities. Specifically, they have assisted citizens in filling out the Internet Service survey, as well as guidance on the program, expectations and developments that will be carried out on the island to reduce the digital divide.


The PRBP is under the Office of Management and Budget and was created by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia through Executive Order 2022-40. Its mission is to reduce the digital divide on the island with projects that improve citizens’ access to broadband connectivity and provide all Puerto Rico residents with access to high-speed internet at affordable prices. Additional details on the PRBP can be found at https://www.smartisland.pr.gov.

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