KEYSPOT promotes InternetFAST before Philly Tech Week

April 20, 2012

Drexel University, a lead partner of KEYSPOT will promote an InternetFAST in advance of this year’s Philly Tech Week, to be held April 23 – April 28. This year’s theme is “Making a better Philadelphia through technology.” Drexel supports this theme, and highlights that digital inclusion must be at the forefront of making the theme a reality. In Philadelphia, an estimated 41 percent – or 625,662 people – lack awareness about or access to the Internet. This divide hampers the region’s economy, and hinders educational, occupational and other life prospects for many residents.

To raise awareness of this citywide problem, KEYSPOT, an initiative of the Freedom Rings Partnership to bring free Internet access and computer classes to the unconnected, challenges those fortunate to be connected to go offline for 41 hours. From Saturday at 3p.m. until Monday at 8a.m. people are encouraged to give up email, Facebook, Twitter and more.

“Living without the Internet, even for 41 hours, will be a major inconvenience to me,” says Sharmain Matlock-Turner, president and CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition, a KEYSPOT lead partner with Drexel. “But it pales in comparison to being cut off from all of the opportunities that the Internet provides for Philadelphia citizens such as employment, health information, education and resources.”

Drexel’s Joanne Ferroni agrees. “Digital literacy is directly tied to literacy, and Philadelphia is a city with a tremendous adult literacy problem,” says Ferroni, director of University and Community Partnerships at Drexel. “If you’re not using the Internet, you can’t apply for a job or apply to college,” Ferroni says. “Even places that typically hire entry-level workers, now you have to fill out an online application.” 

KEYSPOT expects those who commit may fail, but the goal is to raise awareness. To sign-up and highlight this issue on Twitter or Facebook, go to

In addition to Ferroni and Matlock-Turner, other fasters include Jeff Friedman of the Office of Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Chief Innovation Officer of the City of Philadelphia Adel Ebeid, and Farah Jimenez, president and CEO of the People’s Emergency Center.

KEYSPOT is a citywide collaboration of civic, community and nonprofit organizations including Drexel University, Urban Affairs Coalition, and the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology.

The Freedom Rings Partnership is funded by a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, which is under the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.