Digital Divide Closing, But Still Challenging in Kansas City

Kansas City prides itself on being a national leader for digital equity. Becoming the first Google Fiber city in 2011 launched KC into the spotlight as it became America’s first gigabit metropolis. The city runs a  top-notch coalition for digital inclusion, launched a civic association to promote digital equity, and hosts Gigabit CIty Summits to showcase advanced technologies from around the country and the world. And yet, questions have lingered about how well Kansas City has done to address the digital divide. A 2017 Brookings study of broadband availability and adoption ranked Kansas City only 84th out of the top 100 cities. The SHLB Coalition and the Kansas City Public Library hired Dr. John Horrigan to review the City’s progress in solving the digital divide using data from the American Community Survey (ACS).  His report, released last week, shows that KC has made significant progress. The combined Kansas Cities (MO and KS) increased their broadband adoption by 16.5 percent from 2013 to 2018, compared to the average rate of 14.7 percent increase in 10 other comparable cities. But because the city started at a lower level of adoption, it has climbed only to the middle of the pack.  The combined Kansas Cities show an overall adoption rate of 84.1 percent, comparable to the national average of 85.1 percent. 

Digital Divide Closing, But Still Challenging in Kansas City Examining Kansas City’s Progress in Addressing the Digital Divide: A Comparative Analysis