Growing Healthy Digital Ecosystems During COVID-19 and Beyond

Written by Colin Rhinesmith and Susan Kennedy

How are digital inclusion coalitions across the country responding to the triple challenges of the pandemic, growing economic inequality, and racial injustice facing poor communities and communities of color across the country without access to broadband internet at home?

Colin Rhinesmith and Susan Kennedy present findings from a survey of individuals representing a diverse group of organizations across the United States that have self-identified as being part of either a formal, informal, or emerging digital inclusion coalition. The purpose of their study was to better understand the role these coalitions have played in supporting what they are calling “digital equity ecosystems” in their communities during the challenges of the pandemic.

The main findings:

  1. Digital inclusion coalitions established before the pandemic have responded to COVID-19 by focusing their efforts on information and resource sharing, networking, data collection, raising awareness about digital inequality, and developing new tactics to promote digital equity.
  2. The pandemic has introduced several new challenges for digital inclusion coalitions and has magnified a number of existing challenges.
  3. Digital inclusion coalitions are finding ways to creatively solve problems to address their communities’ digital needs.
  4. Cities, counties, states, and national organizations have also played key roles in supporting local digital equity ecosystems.