ENGIE North America today announced that it has rolled out a connectivity solutions pilot to provide four California school districts Wi-Fi-enabled school buses to serve students and their families. ENGIE’s ‘Student Wi-Fi Zone’ helps to bridge the digital divide and provide reliable, long-distance learning solutions, free of charge, while maintaining social distancing. These buses provide fast internet within a 300-foot radius for those affected by California’s mandated shelter-in-place order. The mobile connectivity solution is made possible through a public/private partnership between the districts, ENGIE North America, and Icomera, an ENGIE company.
“In response to COVID-19, this solution is especially important because of the urgency around building equitable access to remote learning for California school districts – a story that we know is true of school districts across the U.S.,” said Courtney Jenkins, vice president and general manager for ENGIE North America. “Once we identified this opportunity to support our education partners’ critical need, we were able to procure, install and provide free Wi-Fi access within days. That’s a remarkable testament to the collaborative efforts between the school districts and ENGIE North America. All four school districts will continue to use ‘Student Wi-Fi Zone’ for summer sessions.”
Nearly 22 percent of U.S. households have no access to internet on a regular basis. During the shut-down of typical internet access points due to COVID-19 closures – including public libraries in addition to school sites – lack of reliable access to internet has become an even more significant barrier to new distance learning expectations. The school districts using ENGIE’s mobile connectivity solution include the Aromas-San Juan [San Benito County], North Monterey County [Monterey County] and John Swett [Contra Costa County].
According to Aromas-San Juan Superintendent Michele Huntoon, “We have close to 25 percent of our students who do not have access to the internet. Our area has multiple areas of ‘white spaces’ that are dead zones for internet access. We are thrilled to establish this partnership with ENGIE to bring a much-needed service to our students. The service will reduce the digital divide and address equity among our students as seen in the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16qpK-S9zxM.
ENGIE North America is a leader in providing renewable energy and energy efficiency services to K-12 school districts in CA, having worked with more than 50 districts across the state. Icomera is the world’s leading provider of wireless Internet connectivity and application platforms for public transportation, committed to promoting green mobility. Its mobile devices are installed in more than 31,000 vehicles around the world. Mobile connectivity is an integral part of ENGIE’s Connectivity-as-a-Service (CaaS). While the system can provide additional services in the future to help parents track buses, and the districts with fleet management, for now the system is tailored to address the needs of the student population. The Wi-Fi units provide a secure installation capable of blocking inappropriate sites and optimizing access across multiple cellular providers.
About ENGIE North America
ENGIE North America Inc. offers a range of capabilities in the United States and Canada to help customers decarbonize, decentralize and digitalize their operations. These include comprehensive services to help customers run their facilities more efficiently and optimize energy and other resource use and expense; clean power generation; energy storage; and retail energy supply that includes renewable, demand response, and on-bill financing options. Nearly 100% of the company’s power generation portfolio is low carbon or renewable. Globally, ENGIE S.A. is the largest independent power producer and energy efficiency services provider in the world, employing 170,000 people in 70 countries. For more information on ENGIE North America, please visit our LinkedIn page or Twitter feed, www.engie-na.com and www.engie.com.
Icomera is the world’s leading provider of wireless Internet connectivity for public transport and is committed to promoting green mobility. Serving millions of Wi-Fi users worldwide, our award-winning technology makes public transport a better, safer, more attractive option for passengers, supporting our mission to help contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions of 3.5 million metric tons by 2022. A wholly owned subsidiary of ENGIE Solutions, Icomera is headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, with main offices in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, the United States and Canada. Find out more at icomera.com