Zack Quaintance

What States Should Know as Federal Digital Equity Money Arrives

The White House has taken its first steps toward distributing $45 billion of federal money aimed at getting the entire country connected to high-speed Internet, with President Biden inviting governors to start applying for these funds.

Meet the Newest Muni Broadband Advocacy Group

A group of municipal officials have formed a new advocacy group for municipal broadband in the United States, dubbed the American Association for Public Broadband (AAPB). "For decades, municipal networks have achieved success across the country. Now, with AAPB, we have a clear unified voice," the group noted on its new website.

Digital Inclusion Training Programs Increase Nationwide

As government and other groups that work directly with communities across the country increasingly prioritize digital equity, programs to train new experts in the field are steadily growing. The spike is a direct result of society — from government, to nonprofits, to individuals themselves — pushing for digital equity after COVID-19 made clear the importance of closing the digital divide.

Digital Inclusion for Seniors Changes Amid Pandemic

Older adults have long needed help with technology. Because of this dynamic, for many years digital inclusion programs have worked extensively with older adults. Those efforts, however, became impossible to safely conduct at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, advocates in the space had to get creative. Tobey Dichter is the CEO of Generations on Line, with more than 20 years of experience in digital inclusion work with seniors. Dichter’s group offers online tutorials to help those who are connected learn more about how to navigate and stay safe on the Internet.

Digital Equity Takes Center Stage in US Cities

Digital equity is having a moment. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the country to stay home in March 2020, the importance of digital equity became clear. While many folks had reliable high-speed Internet in their houses, up-to-date devices for accessing that Internet, and the skills to use it in meaningful ways, but across the country — in rural, suburban and urban communities — there was consistently a remaining percentage who did not.

Digital Equity: The Softer Side of the Biden Infrastructure Plan

President Biden’s recently announced infrastructure proposal calls for a massive, unprecedented investment aimed at connecting all Americans to the Internet, one that has led to some digital equity experts calling it a potential game changer for their work. What does Biden’s plan need to do to fully address digital equity and Internet access in the United States? Experts say: availability is goog; adoption is better.

 

Chicago Wants to Make Its Student Broadband Program Permanent

Chicago Connected — "a groundbreaking initiative to provide free Internet" — aims to connect 100,000 students, giving them Internet at home for minimum of four years. Chicago officials say they hope the program will be the first phase of a broader effort that ultimately bridges the city’s digital divide. The four-year scope really sets the program apart from those found in other parts of the country, “This is really just phase one of what we’re trying to do,” said Chicago Chief Financial Officer Jennie Bennett.

Social Distancing Inspires New Digital Literacy Strategies

Digital literacy work — which involves teaching folks to use computers so they aren’t left behind by societal digitization — often plays out through classroom instruction, library initiatives, or direct outreach at community events. COVID-19 and social distancing, however, have made all of that limited or impossible.

How San Rafael, California Built a Wi-Fi Network During a Pandemic

San Rafael (CA) is in the process of launching a new mesh Wi-Fi network for one of its most densely populated neighborhoods, doing so as a response to the COVID-19 crisis. The overarching goal is to ensure that residents there — particularly students — are able to get online. Officials say that the new network — which the city and its collaborators essentially built from scratch between now and when the virus broke out in March — will reach roughly 2,000 students, who may need the connectivity to attend school come fall, depending on the status of public space reopenings.

State, Local Government Face New Reality for 2020 U.S. Census

Stakeholders at all levels of government — federal, state, and local — are pivoting to stay flexible and get creative around the Census amid an unprecedented set of new challenges. While increasing online outreach is helpful to some, it’s also problematic in a place like Detroit, where many residents are on the challenging side of the digital divide, without access to technology or a reliable high-speed Internet connection at home.