Maya Wiley, senior vice president for Social Justice at The New School and Henry Cohen Professor of Urban Policy and Management at the Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment is tackling the Digital Divide head on. Through her recently debuted Digital Equity Lab, Wiley challenges students to team up and address the growing chasm between New Yorkers who have ready access to computers, the Internet, and other digital technologies, and New Yorkers who don’t.
"One of the huge disconnects we have right now between the tech sector and some of our social problems is that technologists don’t understand what the real problems are because they haven’t lived them,” says Wiley, who gives students the opportunity to strategize digital inclusion at the local level with city government officials and local non-profit community leaders. “And if you don’t understand all of the kinds of divides we have — race, gender, class — then you can’t think effectively about how technology can help bridge those gaps rather than exacerbate them."
Before joining The New School, Wiley served as counsel to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio where she spearheaded the Mayor’s Broadband strategy to target income inequality. Wiley also helped negotiate and supported the launch of the Link NYC franchise, advocated for the allocation of more than 70-million dollars to establish wireless corridors in low-income public housing neighborhoods, and developed the plan for more than 21,000 New York City public housing residents to get free in-home wireless broadband services.
Wiley’s Digital Equity Lab is just one of the many ways the university uses its brain power, creativity, and openness to construct an inclusive and positive paradigm for the future.