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How Phoenix's New Wi-Fi Canopy Delivers Internet To Students

When the pandemic hit, education was turned on its head.

Everything went virtual and schools across Arizona were left to figure out how to remotely deliver an education to more than 1 million students in the state.

The results — like so many other things during the pandemic — highlighted the inequities that already existed in our society.

In this case, it laid bare the digital divide among students.

We saw students sitting outside of restaurants or coffee shops to get access to the internet to do their homework. Parents dropping kids off at the library for broadband and picking them up late at night.

But now, Phoenix says it has come up with a new way to solve that problem — for good.

Starting this week, the first 250,000 families in the Phoenix Union High School District and its feeder schools will get connected to what’s being called the Phoenix Digital Education Connection Canopy.

The $34 million project was funded by federal relief money, and its developers say it’s scalable for any community or school district who wants to try it out.

The Show spoke with the mind behind the project, Paul Ross, associate vice president and chief information officer at Phoenix College, to learn more about how it works.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.