Visions of Digital Equity

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico are currently working on digital equity plans. One key component of the plans is the development of states’ visions for digital equity. These efforts are the initial state-level planning and envisioning at this scale and scope.

This project focuses on the unique opportunity for states to craft their visions for digital equity that are guided by the people who are most impacted by the digital divide, and improving the lives of all.

A well-crafted vision of digital equity has the potential to be very powerful. It can:

  • Offer a glimpse of a state transformed by universal connectivity,
  • Provide a roadmap and resources for the digital inclusion efforts to come, and
  • Act as a north star for goal setting, planning, and implementation efforts over the months and years to come.

The best visions of digital equity will be community centered and focused on creating change, specific and clearly articulated, and ambitious but attainable. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which will review all state digital equity plans, suggests that digital equity visions address at least these two questions:

  1. What will digital equity look like in the context of your state?
  2. What are the broad goals that should be accomplished in executing this plan (e.g., improve rural health outcomes, increase underrepresented youth employment in technology-related fields)?

NTIA has specifically advised states to “lead with equity,” intentionally identifying, amplifying, and centering the voices of those most affected by the digital divide and disconnected communities.

With the extraordinary task and responsibility of state policymakers and local communities in mind, we undertook this project to aid both in ensuring that more community voices are heard in crafting visions that increase opportunity for all.

Digital equity work did not begin, nor will it end, with this time of historic federal funding. Digital equity advocates around the country have been working for many years to close the digital divide. This project draws on the expertise of national and local experts in this field.

Through surveys, community meetings, interviews, conversations, and a collaborative writing process with community contributors, we have arrived at ten Principles for Digital Equity Visions, organized around five themes, to help guide both the process and the resulting visions of digital equity.