What is our vision of digital equity?
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
This is Digital Inclusion Week 2022, a moment to raise awareness of solutions around home internet access, personal devices, and local technology training and assistance programs. The theme this year, Turning our moment into a Movement, is so appropriate because, however vast our efforts, it will take a sustained effort to close our digital divides. The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is committed to working alongside the hundreds of other organizations across the United States advancing digital equity.
As states, tribes, and territories begin to plan to use Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act support to connect everyone through high-speed Internet access, an overarching requirement is that they each write down their vision for digital equity. The exercise is a great opportunity to reflect years later and imagine how our lives, our communities, our economy and our society can be transformed through successful implementation of the Act.
In recognition of the work that states, tribes and territories have ahead of them – as well as the role that communities must play in informing their plans – the Benton Institute is launching a national dialogue to engage our community of advocates to contribute to a publication which describes a collective vision of digital equity.
As a first phase of this process, we invite the digital equity community to join us on October 11 at 11 a.m. ET (REGISTRATION LINK) for a conversation and to contribute to a short 10-question survey: https://www.menti.com/qj1oj3dij4
Please join us in this process of articulating a collective vision, or perhaps visions, of digital equity that can add to the digital equity work that many of you are already undertaking by responding to the survey and, if you want to engage even more directly, by participating in our online event on October 11.
For the past 40 years, the Benton Institute has been a critical thought leader, providing timely insights and expert recommendations that support broadband expansion, connect stakeholders, inform decision makers, and improve the best practice. The approach we take here, however, is a somewhat new exercise for us. We don’t research how things are, or point out conservative approaches or best practices. Instead, we work collectively to define a vision of what could and should be.
Andrew Coy of Initial Velocity is helping lead our work on this project. Andrew is a passionate problem solver with experience at the intersection of nonprofits, government, and technology. As White House adviser from 2015-2017, Andrew led the President’s Nation of Makers initiative, connecting and bringing communities together to help grow the maker movement, coordinating innovation across the federal government, advocating for more manufacturing in K-12 & Higher Ed, and leading efforts to increase youth voices in science and technology through the President’s Kid Science Advisors campaign. Andrew served as co-chair of the first-ever Interagency Maker Task Force under the National Council of Science and Technology’s Committee on Technology. He is currently Executive Director of the Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore.
Visions of digital equity must go beyond cables. Yes, as Congress finds, access to affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband is essential to fully participating in modern life in the United States. But adoption, affordability, devices and usage are equally important to unlocking the potential of broadband to improve economic competitiveness, essential public services, healthcare, education and more. Again.
Access for all to 25/3 or even 100/20 on a certain date is not a vision of digital equity. True vision gives direction. It sharpens our focus and helps turn goals and objectives into reality.
There is so much crucial digital inclusion work underway right now – and many more will be supported by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and state broadband programs.
The exercise we are asking you to help us with is an articulation of how truly universal broadband can transform our society, our economy and our democracy.
Many of you are directing on how to get the job done. We ask you to help focus better on what we are all aiming for.
How do you ensure that not only does cable reach communities of color, low-income and rural areas, how do you ensure that opportunities reach them as well?
Obviously, we need to hear many voices. Including yours.
Adrianne B. Furniss is Executive Director of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.
David Coy is the founder of Initial Velocity and executive director of the Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a nonprofit organization that works to ensure that everyone in the United States has access to competitive, high-performance broadband, regardless of where they live or who they are. We believe that the communications policy – rooted in the values of access, equity and diversity – has the power to provide new opportunities and strengthen communities.
© Benton Institute for Broadband & Society 2022. Redistribution of this publication via e-mail – both internally and externally – is encouraged if it incorporates this copyright statement.
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