Going Local to Close the Digital Divide
Regular Reset readers know that we are closely following the data, the debate and details of the work to close the digital divide.
Now the esteemed Knight Foundation has published a drill down on how one city – Detroit – is addressing the issue. The report is part of an ongoing Knight Foundation series in which investigative reporters take a close look at funding models.
The entire report is worth a read but some quick highlights include clear data showing education was just as important as bandwidth and devices in closing the digital divide. The takeaway – one of the key ways to help the nearly 30% of Americans without regular broadband access to cross the digital divide is to make sure these Americans understand both why broadband access is so important and how to navigate the digital terrain.
The Detroit experiment included comprehensive training classes in digital literacy. After graduating from these digital literacy classes nearly half of the students went ahead and purchased their own broadband access rather than wait for a free experimental network to launch.
The initiative also took the time to focus on why broadband is relevant – helping to show parents and grandparents how children need broadband to succeed in school and every job seeker needs broadband to keep up to date on both job skills and job openings.
The report found that focusing on the neighborhoods where the need is greatest is a smart way to start. And, not surprisingly, the report found that making sure families have up-to-date devices, sufficient broadband speed and an affordable price are all important tools to close the digital divide.