The 21st Century Project

Projects of the 21st Century Project

Click on the title of the project to go the project's Web site if there is one.

Information Technology Innovation in Texas Mental Healthcare

Since 2006, LBJ School master's degree students have been part of the LBJ School evaluation team assisting a cross-agency task force of state officials who are working to improve mental healthcare in Texas. The overall project, Mental Healthcare Transformation, is part of a national effort funded by the federal government through grants to states. A large part of the project is to use innovative new applications of information technology to improve and transform mental healthcare in the United States.

The 2006 World Congress on Information Technology

In 2005 and 2006, the 21st Century Project assisted in the development of the 2006 World Congress on Information Technology, which was held in Austin in May of 2006. LBJ School students created Web and print materials for the 2,000 international delegates who attended the Congress, covering the three themes of the event: healthcare, privacy and security, and the "digital divide." All the delegates to the Congress were given a student-produced booklet on privacy and security titled "Secure Your World." At the Congress, a student-produced documentary short film on how Austin has dealt with the "digital divide" was shown continuously in an exhibit hall booth.

"Cool Tools for Change"

In April 2004, the 21st Century Project hosted a standing-room-only conference for Central Texas nonprofits called "Cool Tools for Change," which introduced nonprofit leaders to new Internet-based tools that are affordable and useful for budget-constrained nonprofit organizations.

Evaluating Community Networks in Texas

In the final years of the eight-year Texas grant program called the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund, or TIF, Gary Chapman of the 21st Century Project and Professor Sharon Strover of the UT Department of Radio, TV and Film co-led an evaluation of the first-round of community networking projects funded by TIF. This entailed visits to and extensive interviews in 36 Texas communities throughout the state, as well as data analysis and consultations with TIF officials.

Lonestar Broadband: Broadband in Rural Texas

In 2001-2002, the 21st Century Project was funded by the Texas Public Utility Commission to investigate and develop a Web site about broadband availability in rural Texas. This project produced the popular Web site http://www.lonestarbroadband.org. The 21st Century Project also hosted a conference on rural broadband at the University of Texas at Austin.

Responsible Use of the Internet

In 1999, the 21st Century Project partnered with Austin-based nonprofit organization PALnet, now called YouthLaunch, in a project that paired LBJ School students with Texas high school students for explorations about responsible use of the Internet among young people. PALnet and the 21st Century Project co-hosted an event that brought the high school students to Austin for a two-day dialog with their graduate school counterparts.

Community Technology Strategies in Austin, Texas

From 1995 until the present, the 21st Century Project has played an active role in the development of community technology strategies in Austin, particularly through the activity of Austin Free-Net, the local nonprofit organization that provides free Internet access and classes throughout the city. In 1995, the 21st Century Project helped organize the "Nothin' But Free-Net" event in a public housing project in East Austin, which introduced many nearby residents to the Internet for the first time. Gary Chapman, director of the 21st Century Project, has also served on the City of Austin's Grants for Technology Opportunities awards committee, and has been given a "Distinguished Service Award" by the City of Austin.

Smart Cards and State Benefit Services

In 1997, the 21st Century Project was asked by the Texas Office of the Comptroller to investigate the potential use of smart cards in state benefit services, particularly for food stamps, as a replacement technology platform for the magnetic-stripe "LoneStar Card." LBJ School students developed a Web site on smart cards and benefits delivery and hosted a workshop for state officials on the technology and its application in state benefit services.

"Disaster Informatics" and the Aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Austin's experience dealing with evacuees from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita led to the development of a new field of activity: "disaster informatics," or the use of information technology to prepare for and cope with a disaster. Gary Chapman is a member of the City of Austin's Technology Response Team, which is exploring innovative ways to use information technology to engage Central Texas residents in preparing for a natural or man-made disaster. In addition, three LBJ School master's degree students prepared a comprehensive review of how technology was used in Austin during the aftermath of both hurricanes, and have made recommendations on how to improve IT use for disaster preparedness.