Tech and the City: Digital Equity in San Francisco: What is it? Why is it Important? | Mechanics' Institute

You are here

Tech and the City: Digital Equity in San Francisco: What is it? Why is it Important?
Moderated by Emy Tseng, BroadbandUSA, (NTIA), U.S. Department of Commerce

As our digital world matures, connected technologies are woven into the very fabric of our lives: the way we communicate, the way we work, and the way we learn.  Individuals and families without access to digital tools and robust broadband face compounding challenges that limit their ability to get an education, build a career, and access health care as well as the opportunity to engage in such commonplace activities as sharing a ride or streaming a movie. 

Even in tech-savvy San Francisco – home to some of the most innovative tech companies in the world – issues surrounding digital equity persist.  In this significant panel presentation, we will hear from leaders in the city (and state)  who are working to improve digital equity through investments in infrastructure and digital inclusion. 



Alex Banh is the Digital Equity Manager for the City and County of San Francisco's Office of Digital Equity. In this role, he is tasked with managing citywide efforts to improve technology access and digital skills among underserved populations. His responsibilities include conducting research, piloting programs, and developing partnerships with public, private, and community-based stakeholders to close the digital divide.  Alex is committed to digital inclusion to empower individuals and communities. Prior to working at the City, he led the Asia Foundation’s global IT team, overseeing IT projects and training programs for the organization’s local staff and partners throughout developing Asia. He also previously co-managed San Francisco’s federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant at the Department of Technology, funding a variety of digital skills programs for audiences from youth to seniors.


Brian Roberts is the Policy Advisor with the City and County of San Francisco’s Department of Technology, where he advises the City’s Chief Information Officer on connectivity and information technology policy. Mr. Roberts has worked for the past 20 years as the City’s lead on a variety of initiatives, including implementing the City’s dig once program, securing and managing a Broadband Technology Opportunity Program Grant, negotiating right-of-way and fiber agreements; community broadband feasibility studies, and overseeing community media agreements. Mr. Roberts haad served as one of Mayor Edwin Lee’s designees on the Federal Communication Commission’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee.  Brian currently is the President Elect of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA).  In 2017 he was named San Francisco Digital Leaders Awards “Digital Champion”. Prior to joining the City of San Francisco, Brian worked as a regulatory analyst for the California Public Utilities Commission.

Emy Tseng is a Senior Program Specialist with the BroadbandUSA initiative. Her work focuses on expanding broadband access, adoption and use in underserved communities across the country.  She provides technical assistance to local and state governments on their digital inclusion and smart communities programs and strategies.  She previously oversaw a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) $114 million grant portfolio of local governments and K-12 education broadband adoption and public computing programs.  Previous to NTIA, Emy developed San Francisco's first citywide digital inclusion initiative as the Digital Inclusion Director for the City and County of San Francisco and served on the first California State Broadband Task Force.  In 2017, Emy was awarded the Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion Award for her longstanding work in the field.  From 2014-2016, Emy was a Fellow and Affiliate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

 Other panelists to be announced. Watch for details!


MI Members Free
Broadband USA-NTIA Free
Community Tech Network Free
Public $15
Register now ›
4th Floor Meeting Room
Pam Troy - 415-393-0116
Register now by using the form below or calling 415-393-0101.

Future Activities

Feb 27 - 11:00am

Write Now!
A drop-in, member-led writing group

Mar 5 - 11:00am

Write Now!
A drop-in, member-led writing group

Mar 12 - 11:00am

Write Now!
A drop-in, member-led writing group

Mar 12 - 6:30pm

Suffrage 100: A Centennial Celebration - Women’s Right to Vote: How the West Was Won
A conversation with journalist Elaine Elinson and historian Jennifer Helton