Massachusetts plans to help dozens of communities solve their information technology woes with $3.5 million in grants, Gov. Charlie Baker’s office announced Tuesday.
The Community Compact Cabinet Information Technology program is set to distribute the awards — ranging between $1,400 and $156,601 — to 70 towns and cities, to fund civic technology initiatives. These include new e-permitting systems, public Wi-Fi networks and improved disaster-recovery and cybersecurity capabilities.
“Technology systems support so many of the critical services that Massachusetts cities, towns and school districts provide to residents,” Baker said in a press release. “We are proud that our Administration, through the work of the Community Compact Cabinet, is continuing its partnership with local communities to enable another round of innovative IT improvement projects.”
The grant program has been around since 2015 and has issued 749 grants worth $19.2 million in total over the last seven years. It’s housed within Massachusetts’ Community Compact Cabinet, which is led by Lt. Gov. Kathryn Polito and includes the commonwealth’s top IT, housing, education, transportation, energy and environmental protection officials.
The community group is designed to elevate the administration’s relationship with community leaders, many of whom have been repeat grantees. Pittsfield, a city in Western Massachusetts, was awarded $99,750 on Tuesday to build a public Wi-Fi network, following $95,000 in 2019 to implement wireless infrastructure and $40,000 in 2017 for telephone system consolidation.
Polito’s group is also planning to launch a separate grant program designed to support communities that have coverage gaps in their municipal broadband networks. The new Municipal Fiber Grant program, which plans to take applications between March 15 and April 15 of next year, offers local governments up to $250,000 to improve their IT operations.