We are creating affordable access, helping to get the tools and training so that we have digitally literate constituents. It then makes it easier to bring people on and do things like e-voting without continuing to have this class divide."

Finding ways to better engage and integrate the public into a digital community are the primary drivers for innovative e-government services. But underpinning those external services are the applications internal to government that cross old, disparate infrastructure, improve information sharing and slash the cost of doing business.

Examples of internal innovation are cropping up across the country and around the world. Very much at the core of a digital community, it is these cost-saving and efficiency-boosting applications that keep the community humming. From Wi-Fi mesh networks in San Mateo, Calif., and Shanghai, China, to Wi-Fi enabled, automated meter-reading in Corpus Christi, Texas, from integrating phone, voice and data on a Wi-Fi/WiMAX network in Ocean City, Md., to a Wi-Fi-enabled public-transit information network in

Portsmouth, England, these internal innovations enable the governments of digital communities to remain focused on high-quality service delivery, which in turn acts as an economic stimulus.

Around the world, thanks to widely available broadband access and wireless technology, the digital community is emerging -- and the door is open for America, it just needs courageous leaders to take the next step.