Seattle introduces a Digital Equity Initiative to provide Internet access to its citizens.
The Digital Equity Initiative was launched in response to the Seattle’s Quadrennial Technology Indicators Report released in 2014. The Initiative intends to provide Internet access to the 93,000 residents without Internet connectivity in Seattle, this mostly includes older people and immigrants.
The Quadrennial Technology Indicators Report found that the biggest number of discrepancies in Seattle are its Internet access and its citizens’ digital literacy. According to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, “too many residents do not have sufficient Internet access or the skills necessary to participate fully in Seattle’s high-tech economy and community.” To minimize this digital divide, the Digital Equity initiative plans to provide Internet access, technical support, and IT skills training to the Seattle residents with a low-level of education and a low income. Additionaly, Google, who has been expanding its presence in Seattle, has seeded this initiative with a $344,000 grant.
The first part of the Google grant will go to the Campus of Learners Foundation and the Seattle Housing Authority, enabling them to provide Internet access during next three years for young people, ages 5 to 18. The second part of the grant will go to the Associated Recreation Council, which aims to expand Wi-Fi access using 76 APs in 26 community centres throughout the city. In addition, they will equip their learning laboratories with new computers.
Hassan Wardere, a speaker at the conference – “minimize the divide,” held at Yesler Community Centre in Seattle, noted that, in order to minimize the digital gap, it is very important to take into the consideration the low level of digital literacy of the elderly people, in particular elderly immigrants, of the city.
Furthermore, The city of Seattle announced that in 2016 the Technology Matching Fund Awards planned on supporting creative ideas to increase access to free or low-cost broadband as well as to strengthen residents’ digital literacy skills.