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What’s New in Digital Equity: Boston Shares Digital Equity Survey Results

Plus, how electric infrastructure can help expand access to high-speed Internet, Boston unveils the results of a recent digital equity assessment, Salesforce tapped to help distribute federal grant money, and more.

Boston City Hall
This week in “What’s New in Digital Equity” — our weekly look at government digital equity and broadband news — we have a number of interesting items, which you can jump to with the links below:


State government agencies are not the only ones getting involved in digital inclusion efforts, which are on the rise nationwide, as the efforts are increasingly being seen at the city level. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced the results of the city’s digital equity assessment last week, which aims to help the city and reach its goal of connecting all Bostonians to the city’s digital services.

The assessment, prepared by CTC Technology and Energy, has already guided the city’s short-term initiatives and will support the city’s Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) in understanding and addressing digital equity needs.

The assessment will also be the foundation as the city creates a digital equity plan, for which the city will engage with stakeholders. To further understand specific community needs, the city will select a partner to develop a digital equity survey, to be delivered over the next year. DoIT will focus on digital tools, programming, and new initiatives around digital gaps. (Julia Edinger)


A new brief from the Pew Charitable Trusts details how Virginia has used electric infrastructure in the state to help expand high-speed Internet infrastructure as well.

The brief opens by noting that communities in rural America continue to lack sufficient access, as well as the population density necessary to make expansion there commercially viable for private telecommunications companies.

Investor-owned utilities — usually large, publicly traded electricity providers that are regulated by state public utility commissions — can have a major impact in delivering broadband to these and other underserved areas by allowing ISPs to leverage existing utility infrastructure for new high-speed Internet connections,” the brief reads.

From there, it goes into details about the work that has happened in Virginia, contextualizing it within similar efforts that have happened in other states.

You can read the new brief in full on the Pew Charitable Trusts website. (Zack Quaintance)


In other news at the local level, the city of Albuquerque’s Broadband Office hosted its first Internet Resources Fair over the weekend. The free event, held at the International District Library, offered attendees a chance to learn about the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), how to get connected to free public Wi-Fi or otherwise through local Internet providers, as well as the general benefits of Internet access.

Forty people attended the event, which brought together people from government, community partners and private companies. The Department of Senior Affairs was there to provide a resource for information about Internet use.

Local Internet providers were there to offer support on the ACP and enrolled nine new people in the program. More information about the city’s digital equity efforts can be found on the Broadband Office’s website. (Julia Edinger)


The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has selected Salesforce for management and distribution of the $48 billion in broadband grants for states, territories and tribal and local governments. The grants will be directed to both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.

The applicants will be able to use the NTIA portal to fill out grant applications for one of the five broadband grant programs available to them. The portal will also enable further communications with NTIA.

The role of Salesforce will be to leverage its solutions to support and streamline this process through a customer relationship and grants management platform. Ultimately, the grants will support broadband infrastructure deployment projects that will help bridge digital equity gaps for communities in unserved and underserved areas. (Julia Edinger)


Finally, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Connectivity Fund released new funding this week, specifically more than $96 million.

The Emergency Connectivity Fund money is from the federal government, aimed at helping connect schools and libraries across the country to high-speed Internet. Within this current bout of funding, roughly $53 million is intended to go to help students that have been impacted by recent extreme weather — hurricanes Fiona and Ian — in Florida, North Carolina, Puerto Rico and South Carolina.

One example of what the money is going toward is that the Puerto Rico Department of Education will get funds to buy 225,000 mobile hot spots. Another example is that schools in Pinellas County, Fla., will get money to purchase nearly 15,000 laptops.

Again, this is part of a larger ongoing funding effort from the FCC to community schools and libraries, which to date has dispersed more than $6 billion since first launching last year. (Zack Quaintance)
Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for <i>Government Technology</i>. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.