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What's New in Digital Equity: Digital Inclusion Week Is Here

We run down a list of some of the government actions taking place for the week. Plus, Kansas releases its broadband digital equity plan for public comment, and a research program seeks to advance health equity.

Hands holding tablet that says "EQUITY" in cyan print and has cyan-colored charts floating around it over a blue/navy background.
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:


Digital Inclusion Week is currently underway, and as such a number of agencies at all levels of government have used the occasion to take action, from the U.S. Department of Commerce to the city of Boston to the state of Kansas.

Digital Inclusion Week is an annual event in which individuals and organizations across the country spread awareness of digital inclusion and equity work, doing so with events, celebrations, announcements and other actions. Now in its seventh year, the week continues to expand. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance — the organizing body — reports that last year 38 organizations, agencies, tribes and others took action, making it the largest Digital Inclusion Week yet. Organizers are hoping to exceed those numbers this year.

And early returns are strong.

At the federal level, support is perhaps stronger for digital inclusion than it ever has been, particularly within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo posted a video supporting the week. This comes after Raimondo spoke at the nation's premier digital inclusion event, Net Inclusion, in San Antonio in February.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Technology and the public-private National Partnership for Student Success also teamed for a digital inclusion-related toolkit.

At the state level, meanwhile, Hawaii, Kansas and Ohio all took action during the week. More below, but Kansas released a proclamation supporting the week along with posting its broadband digital equity plan for public comment. Hawaii also released its digital equity plan for public comment, complete with an awareness campaign and engaging graphics. And the NDIA expects other states may do the same before the week is out, if they haven't already. Finally, the Ohio Department of Development has a slate of activities, too.

At the county level, Cook County, Ill. — home to Chicago — unveiled its first-ever digital equity action plan along with a digital equity map. While among cities, Boston was a standout, with Mayor Michelle Wu and Massachusetts Broadband Institute Director Michael Baldino announcing $5 million of investments in digital equity coming from the Masschusetts Technology Collaborative in support of the city's work. The money is specifically aimed at getting fast, reliable and affordable high-speed Internet for residents within the Boston Housing Authority.

And this, of course, is just a small sampling of the government actions being taken for the week. Many other jurisdictions across the country are rolling out their own versions of this work, and will almost definitely continue to do so as the week continues through the next few days, ranging from proclamations to investments to the unveiling of new action plans. (Zack Quaintance)


Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced this week the release of the Kansas Digital Equity Plan, now available for public review and comment. Residents, community organizations, businesses and local authorities throughout the state have an opportunity to participate in the public comment period.

This follows the Kansas Broadband Roadshow, launched earlier this year by the state's Office of Broadband Development. The statewide listening tour allowed office staff to hear from community members about barriers they face regarding digital inclusion.

Now, Kansas is the latest state to submit such a plan, but not the only one. It is a nationwide effort as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, through which every state has received federal funding to develop digital equity plans for their states. (Julia Edinger)


A community-led research program launched last week by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is intended to help understand and address structural factors that affect community health. NIH will be funding the research projects of community organizations in a collaborative research process involving academic institutions and other organizations.

One example of the NIH Common Fund Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS)-funded projects is assessing whether enhanced telehealth models in rural communities can improve preventative health care. By improving access to affordable, high-speed Internet in rural communities, the project aims to improve access to telehealth.

Previous research has suggested that expanded Internet access does indeed improve health outcomes. Recently, the American Telemedicine Association launched several tools to help address disparities in telehealth. This NIH program complements previous efforts in this space. (Julia Edinger)
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.