This project began with the intention to help states write their visions of digital equity, visions that go beyond speed benchmarks like "all households connected to 25/3 by 2030." We want to encourage states to develop ambitious agendas and ensure that more community voices are heard in crafting a future with increased opportunity for all—opportunity enabled by affordable, reliable, high-speed internet service.
We adopted a collaborative process, wanting to build on the existing work done by allied organizations in the space, especially those working closely with people most affected by the digital divide. These principles were developed through surveys, community meetings, interviews, conversations, and a collective writing process. The process was led by Andrew Coy of Initial Velocity, LLC, who served as the Benton Institute’s Community Coordinator.
We established a steering committee of practitioners and researchers with deep experience in the field to help us define the scope of the project. We also relied on them to spread the word, ensuring that we considered a range of digital inclusion work happening around the country.
The community-facing survey collected input on the work of organizations that are addressing the needs of what Congress calls “covered populations,” in order to understand where we need more attention and capacity. Read more about the survey.
Most crucially, the principles emerged from a series of consultations with our community contributors. These six individuals brought diverse perspectives to the issues surrounding digital equity, from Alaska to Texas, covering rural, urban, and tribal challenges, highlighting issues of digital accessibility and digital justice. Through this process of community engagement, we arrived at the five themes and eleven principles for Visions of Digital Equity. In the Community Contributor essays, you can learn about community-based approaches to closing the digital divide.