Newport Working Cities Collaborative Brings Cutting Edge BUKI Communication Platform to North End Neighborhood for a Two Year Pilot
During this unprecedented time when accurate information is critical for families to sustain themselves in isolation, Newport Working Cities Collaborative, based at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County, today announced it is launching the first pilot in the nation of a neighborhood communication application of the patented Bluetooth-enabled BUKI technology and smart phone application.
“At a time when families are losing income and may be forced to make difficult choices between mobile phone access, food, or other unplanned needs, we want to ensure families have a way to access the critical information they need, and rebuild after social distancing,” stated Kate Cantwell, Newport Working Cities Initiative Director in a news release.
The two-year pilot, funded through the Rhode Island Foundation Newport County grant, allows residents with either Android or iOS devices to receive announcements for residents, connect with what is happening in their backyard, and message others nearby through the proprietary Bluetooth technology without incurring the costs that may be associated with WiFi or an internet provider—this can help narrow the digital divide for those may need the information the most.
“The Newport Working Cities Collaborative is a partnership of residents, nonprofits, public and private sector partners across the city. The goal is to understand how capacity building and systems change can support people and organizations working together to allow the families of the North End to reach their career and personal goals. Data-sharing and the latest sustainable technology are paramount for a city in the 21st century,” said Cantwell in the release.
According to Newport Working Cities this idea was inspired by the communications challenges faced by people in the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami in 2011, “BUKI co-founders Jack Chen and Cimon Butler wanted to give people the power to create their own connectivity. Their startup invented a patented Bluetooth mesh networking platform that uses Bluetooth to communicate with people’s smart devices based on location — even if WiFi is unavailable”.
“Together with Working Cities, we have installed a number of engagement points throughout public areas where residents often gather. As they come within 250 feet of one of the points, they will receive specific information,” explained Jack Chen in the news release. “We can give residents location based digital content without them incurring data costs. In the case of COVID-19, we have been broadcasting local health information.”
“Another feature about BUKI is that we curate all the content using pre-vetted sources,” added Cimon Butler. “That means our users can easily receive information relevant to them, from sources they can trust, without worrying about their data cost. The Jobs channel features employment opportunities curated by Working Cities and also from local employers.”
To join the platform, residents simply need to download the free BUKI mobile app which features channels for the greater Newport area containing a variety of other types of information that are broadcast through the internet.
To date, the BUKI application has North End channels for jobs, news, and events. It also has channels/partners with many other Newport organizations including: Innovate Newport, The Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce, Bowen’s Wharf, Helly Hansen, Fort Adams, Wag Nation, and many more.