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NTIA Celebrates Vital Role of Digital Inclusion Programs

Thu, May 11, 2017

This week, NTIA is joining communities, organizations and broadband advocates in recognizing Digital Inclusion Week and the important work being done by digital inclusion programs across the country.

The concept of digital inclusion goes beyond ensuring that everyone in the United States has access to the Internet -- it reflects the understanding that people require robust broadband connections, connected devices that meet their needs, and the skills to explore, create, and collaborate in the digital world.

Community leaders, universities, libraries, nonprofit groups and others are working together on digital inclusion programs that connect citizens and inform them about the tremendous number of economic, educational and entertainment benefits that computer use can provide. There are endless examples of these kinds of programs, including "learn to code" classes, workforce skills programs, and training for seniors so they can seek out health information online.

NTIA's BroadbandUSA program offers guidance, assistance and resources to help build the capacity of digital inclusion programs. A few highlights:

  • In March, New Orleans launched the Digital Equity Challenge to seek solutions for increasing technology use in its underrepresented communities. BroadbandUSA supported the City of New Orleans Office of Information Technology and Innovation by sharing information about federal broadband data sources and connecting New Orleans to other cities that had developed similar initiatives.

  • The Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (ViNGN) recently purchased a mobile computer lab to expand its training and outreach programs throughout the United States Virgin Islands. BroadbandUSA shared best practices from other rural broadband programs, including the use of mobile labs, with ViNGN.

  • Last year, BroadbandUSA collaborated with the National Resource Network, the International City/County Management Association, and the cities of Chattanooga, Tenn., Gonzales, Calif., Greensboro, N.C., New Orleans, Springfield, Mo., and Youngstown, Ohio, to produce the resource guide, "Access and Inclusion in the Digital Age." The guide was designed to support communities of all sizes as they work to improve their digital inclusion strategies.

BroadbandUSA also hosted a webinar in April focused on "Strategies for Broadband Adoption and Digital Inclusion in Rural Communities." The webinar spotlighted the role that university extension programs and libraries play in promoting digital inclusion in rural America. A recording of the webinar, as well as presentations and a transcript, are available on the BroadbandUSA website.

As practitioners and advocates celebrate digital inclusion and its vital link to workforce and economic development, NTIA and BroadbandUSA recognize their work and welcome inquiries from communities interested in advice from our team. For more information about the BroadbandUSA program and services, email BroadbandUSA@ntia.doc.gov or call 202-482-2048.