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A new set of resources will help communities become more digitally inclusive places to live. An estimated 100 million Americans lack a broadband connection at home, putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to schooling, job searching and more.
As access to broadband becomes increasingly important, communities are looking to develop technology plans that address the needs of all its residents.
A recently released report is designed to help communities address these issues. It identifies specific areas where communities may want to focus their digital inclusion efforts, for example in economic and workforce development, education and digital literacy. It also provides strategies that organizations and individuals can use to help them implement these efforts.
“Building Digital Communities: A Framework for Action” acknowledges that every community needs to take its own path to becoming digitally inclusive, depending on its own unique assets, needs and the structure of its institutions. As an accompaniment to the report, the Institute for Museum and Library Services also released a guide which explains possible pathways to digital inclusion.
The accompanying guide, is a toolkit intended to help galvanize community conversation and actions specifically around increasing broadband adoption. “Building Digital Communities: Getting Started,” offers key steps for communities on how they can get started with respect to initiating a community action plan, finding ways to carry out a plan, and how to evaluate it moving forward.
The report and guide are the culmination of 18 months of research done by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, together with the University of Washington and the International City/County Management Association. The organizations consulted with hundreds of community members and experts to identify the action steps and frameworks around how to build digital communities.
Judith Kleinberg, program director for San Jose/Silicon Valley at Knight Foundation, was a member of the national team that worked on the development of the report over many months, helping to anlayze and edit the drafts as it evolved into its final form. Kleinberg said she hopes the report will be an important tool for helping communities increase their levels of digital access: