When COVID-19 forced the closing of schools around the world, broadband access immediately became a hot topic. Digital accessibility has been lacking in low-income communities for a very long time, but this pandemic has affected all communities, finally prompting attention and action at the government level. While researching the digitally denied, I heard from many individuals that lacked digital access at home, in school, and within their communities.
Dialogue on this topic, over the weekend, included a recommendation by Eric Schmidt, Former Executive Chairman & CEO of Google, to approve stimulus funding toward broadband access. “Especially for rural areas, the cities are in pretty good shape,” he said. While I completely agree that broadband should be funded, there should be a permanent solution that would provide accessibility for all, and for good. Additionally, our cities are not in “good shape.”
Our Cities Are Not Well
While the infrastructure may be in place for broadband access, our cities often include low-income communities that need more; they need hardware and software, technical support, and education on how to use digital technologies in the business environment. Personally, I would like to see these communities rise from being only consumers of digital technologies to CREATORS and DESIGNERS of emerging technologies. These communities could help us solve tech talent shortages that have plagued cities for years.
I’m pleased to see that Clyburn, Pallone, and ten house democrats have announced a plan to connect all Americans to affordable Broadband internet. “We are working to ensure that all Americans, no matter income level or race, have access to affordable and high-speed broadband internet, the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need for reliable connectivity,” said Congressman Veasey.
So, to be clear, broadband might be available in certain cities, but it is not accessible and equitable if community members don’t have the finances to purchase it, technical support to maintain it, and education to utilize it.
Stacy Gee Hollins, PhD