The Bay Area is leading the way in technology innovation, innovation that has changed the way that we work, communicate, and educate ourselves. But it isn’t San Francisco that is leading the way as it relates to helping people adopt technology.
Largely because it was selected a Google Fiber city in 2011, Kansas City has seen an explosion of activity to close the digital divide. They have built a coalition of service providers called Kansas City Digital Inclusion Coalition. In October 2014, the coalition held a Digital Inclusion Summit that had the following goals:
- Identifying the major needs in digital inclusion for Kansas City
- Identifying the major gaps in the community in narrowing the digital divide
- The development of a communitywide collaborative plan to narrow the digital divide
- Raising awareness on the importance of digital inclusion in Kansas City
- Improving education and employment outcomes
- Improving and enhancing access to health and government resources
They recently released this report about the summit. The report also has data about those who still don’t use the Internet (see image below) and a really powerful quote:
Digital inclusion must be seen as a priority for our community, and we must all come together to develop a joint vision and strategy to narrow the digital divide. Without a communitywide inclusion initiative, many people will be left behind.
The coalition website does a nice job of outlining the problem and what can be done to help, as well as provide links to useful resources for both learner and trainer.
There are great digital inclusion programs happening all over the country. I’d like to give a shout out to a few of my favorites:
- City of Seattle
- Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) in NYC
- Austin Free-Net
- Technology For All in Houston
- Connect Ohio
- Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP) in Minneapolis/St. Paul
Cities or counties looking to start a program to help connect their community to the Internet and provide digital literacy workshops should look to these organizations as a resource.