The state of digital equity
- The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has vastly heightened awareness of the impact of the digital divide for many more people. In response, there has been much discussion in Congress about incorporating aid into the response packages, including: a Senate bill to prevent internet service shut-offs during pandemic and a House proposal for affordable broadband as part of the mid-May COVID Relief bill proposal
- The Digital Equity Act of 2019, introduced by Senator Patty Murray in April 2019 and Representative Jerry McNerney in September 2019, supports a diverse array of digital equity projects at the state and local level to help close the digital divide. These projects may range from providing digital literacy and digital skills education to low-income populations, improving the online accessibility of social services for individuals with disabilities, to more accurately mapping broadband access and adoption in rural communities.
- California Homework Gap Bill (AB1409), introduced in April 2019, would support schools, libraries and community organizations who wish to create homework gap projects (programs to support K-12 kids broadband access after-school)
- NDIA maps show home internet connection rates by census tract throughout the US, posted December 11, 2018
- NDIA’s “Worst Connected Cities” Page, updated October 2018. It includes an interactive map and links to the report for 2017 and previous years
- Broadband’s Impact: A Brief Literature Review – January 2018 by Roberto Gallardo and Brian Whitacre https://www.pcrd.purdue.edu/files/media/Broadbands-Impact-Final.pdf
- Digital Inclusion Trailblazers – a public inventory of local government initiatives promoting digital literacy and broadband access for underserved residents
- Unequal deployment of broadband services = September 11, 2017 – ://connectyourcommunity.org/ndia-report-strategic-investment-in-digital-equity-for-cleveland/
- Seattle 2016 Digital Equity Plan – https://www.seattle.gov/tech/initiatives/digital-equity. In February, 2019, they released their Technology Access and Adoption Study findings. This survey looks at connectivity, devices, online use and skills, tech support, privacy and security concerns, civic engagement, training needs, and barriers to adoption within Seattle.
- Libraries Evolve to Bridge Digital Divide, published by the online Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education, published November 2018
- The National Digital Inclusion Alliance was founded in May 2015 to provide a unified voice for home and public broadband access programs, and local technology training while serving as a bridge to policymakers and the general public.Take a look at their site and consider joining. See NDIA’s recommendations to the federal government on digital inclusion as an example of their good work.
- The Benton Foundation has published a report on Digital Inclusion and Meaningful Broadband Adoption Initiatives, available as Benton-Foundation-DI-Report
- There is an initiative called “ConnectHome” led by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) working to accelerate broadband adoption by children and families living in HUD-assisted housing across the nation.
- The Association for Repair – repair.org, is an organization which advocates for the right to repair, promoting legislation and other solutions. Membership fee is waived for non-profits.
- In May, 2020, the Office for Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) gave direction to banks to include digital inclusion programs in Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) loans. See NDIA Blog for details
The NDIA Digital Inclusion created a Digital Inclusion Resource Library – a collection of documents, reports, teaching aids and other assets used by digital inclusion practitioners. The platform can point to interactive content as well.
The open access journal Social Inclusion published, in May 2020, a special issue co-edited by Dr. Bianca Reisdorf (UNC Charlotte) and Colin Rhinesmith (Simmons University) titled “Digital Inclusion Across the Globe: What Is Being Done to Tackle Digital Inequities?”
In addition, here are a list of resources, particular focused on economic impact of digital training.
- NTIA internet Use Survey, published June, 2020, and the accompanying blog entry
- Digital Distress: What is it and who does it affect. Published February 2019, looking at specific socioeconomic characteristics of those living in digitally distressed neighborhoods part 1 and part 2
- US AID Report: Feb, 2017 Connecting the Next Four Billion: Strengthening the Global Response for Universal Internet Access
- US AID Report: Jan 2020 Digital Development
- Connected Insights has a collection of research, including Adoption Persistence: A longitudinal study of the digtial inclusion impact of the Connect Your Community project, Creating opportunity through connectivity, and Bridging the Gap: What Affordable, Uncapped Internet Means for Digital Inclusion
- Papers on Digital Skills and Earning:
- Benton-Foundation-Digital Inclusion and Meaningful Broadband Adoption Initiatives
- Chapter 6 New Technology and Digital Worlds Analyzing Evidence of Equity in Access Use and Outcomes
- Colleges teaching digital skills can bridge middle skills gap 1
- Connect Your Community – Employment Impact Survey
- Developing digital immigrants computer literacy the case of unemployed women
- Digital inequalities and why they matter
- Does having digital skills really pay off
- Employer Perceptions of Critical Information Literacy Skills and Digital Badges
- Gallipolis 2 pager
- Make Money Surfing the Web – The Impact of Internet Use on the Earnings of U.S. Workers
- Measuring_Relationship_between_Digital_Skills and employability
- Prospects for Poor Neighborhoods in the Broadband Era Neighborhood Level Influences on Technology Use at Work
- Rethinking Digital Inequalities The Experience of the Marginalized in Community Technology Center
- Searching for work in the digital era
- The empty rhetoric of the smart city from digital inclusion to economic promotion in Philadelphia
- The Key to a Good-Paying Job Is_Microsoft Excel_ – At Work – WSJ
- The Training Difference – How Formal Training on the Internet Impacts
- New Users
- What the Experts are Saying_DW_final_updated
Lifeline Services and Broadband
For the latest information on Lifeline and Broadband, check out FCC lifeline support.
Lifeline typically provides up to a $9.25 monthly discount on service for eligible low-income subscribers. Subscribers may receive a Lifeline discount on either a wireline or a wireless service, but they may not receive a discount on both services at the same time. FCC rules prohibit more than one Lifeline service per household.
The FCC reconsidered the policy to extend Lifeline’s monthly credit for low-income households to include broadband which was made in December of 2016. See this link for the Modernization document, and this link for the Order of Reconsideration revoking Lifeline Broadband Provider designations for 9 carriers. For reactions to the revocation, and other FCC policies see:
- NDIA’s December 2017 blog post on Impending Changes to FCC’s Lifeline Program
- NDIA’s blog on September 2017 Blog on broadband for all Americans
- NDIA’s open letter to FCC Chairman Pai
- Benton Foundation’s The FCC is Sucking the Life out of Lifeline
- Wired Magazine’s Millions need the broadband program the FCC just put on hold
- New York Times editorial An Anti-Consumer Agenda at the F.C.C.
For additional perspectives on the original extension of lifeline to include broadband, see:
- Benton Foundation newsletter about Lifeline
- Policy Brief – Trends in Broadband
- Connected Nation’s national fact sheet.
City- and State-based Initiatives
- A summary piece, published February 2019 on From St. Louis to San Francisco, what cities are doing to bridge the digital divide
- Austin’s Digital Inclusion Page, containing updates to city initiatives in implementing their Digital Strategic Inclusion Plan
- There is an initiative in California to provide Internet for all, raised originally in the context of a Comcast-Time Warner merger http://www.internetforallnow.org/
- Kansas City has the Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion page and has published a research paper on Community Learning Centers
- Minneapolis’s Digital Inclusion Page describing the efforts in their city
- New York efforts include
- Philadelphia has funding for Digital Inclusion initiatives available. Details at Digital Literacy Alliance
- Portland’s page on Broadband and Digital Equity (October 2018)
- The San Francisco Digital Equity
- Seattle has a mature and robust program for increasing digital literacy. Here are links to Seattle’s take on Digital Equity and their Digital Equity Initiative.
- Chicago’s Technology Resources
- Lessons, cases and resources developed by local technology champions and planners
- Charlotte (NC) Digital Inclusion Alliance has published a playbook,
providing a road-map of strategies for reducing Charlotte’s digital divide from 19% to 9% by 2026.
If you are aware of others, please send us an email or use the contact form.