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What's New in Digital Equity: Meet the 2023 Digital Inclusion Trailblazers

Plus, a new dashboard compiles state-level rules on digital transformation, the American Library Association launches a new digital inclusion working group for library staffers, and more.

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:


As the year winds to a close, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) has released its annual list of Digital Inclusion Trailblazers, highlighting the city and regional governments that did a good job addressing digital equity.

This year's list includes 47 honorees. This is the seventh year for these awards, and the number of recipients represents an all-time high, up from 32 last year. But nearly every year this award has existed, more qualifiers have achieved it, which speaks to how government in the U.S. generally has made progress in digital inclusion and equity.

These 47 trailblazers are spread throughout 23 states, and within that group, the NDIA has selected 22 for a new Visionary Digital Inclusion Trailblazer designation. To put into context how much the field of digital inclusion has grown, in 2021 there were only 17 trailblazers total.

The NDIA's announcement and cataloging of this honor has also grown. On the group's website, interested parties can find information about the criteria for selection, the history of the honor and a cataloging of nearly 600 resources from throughout the jurisdictions.

The site also has links that contain more information about the work the recipients have done in the past year. You can find it all here. (Zack Quaintance)


A repository of state-level rules governing digital transformation now exists on a new dashboard from the Digital Service Network (DSN) at the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation.

The shift to digital government was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but government entities are continuing their digital transformation journeys after the height of the pandemic, as seen in places like Austin, Texas, and Illinois. DSN’s new dashboard, unveiled Dec. 7, compiles executive orders, legislation and administrative rules that govern state-level digital transformation throughout the U.S.

Among other things, the new database reveals that 84 percent of states or territories have passed at least one executive order related to digital transformation since 2013. Among topics of executive orders related to digital transformation, cybersecurity is the most common.

The database will be updated over time. As the goal is to focus on the three policy tools, the launch started with executive orders but more data on legislation and administrative rules and guidance are forthcoming. (Julia Edinger)


The American Library Association (ALA) is teaming with the NDIA on a new digital inclusion working group for library staffers, the two groups announced.

One of the goals of the working group is for library workers to exchange knowledge about how the work of digital equity is happening throughout libraries. Libraries have long been the front line for digital equity and inclusion, serving as the first place many go for access to devices, the Internet and the skills needed to use both effectively.

“Digital equity is key to our mission of ensuring access to information for all,” said ALA President Emily Drabinski in a statement. “Given the historic investments in digital inclusion by the federal government, it is more important than ever for library workers from all backgrounds to have a space to connect with each other, build on our collective learnings and leverage the current opportunities to meet the pressing needs for digital equity in our communities.”

The plan is for the new working group to meet monthly, with a first meeting slated for the end of January.

More information — including a form to join the group — can be found here. (Zack Quaintance)


This week, Joe Cosgrove was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott to serve on the Broadband Development Office Board of Advisors in Texas, which provides guidance and oversight for the Texas Broadband Development Office. His term will expire Feb. 1, 2025.

Cosgrove comes to the role with over 40 years of legal experience, primarily in telecommunications law and regulations. He founded The Joe Cosgrove Law Firm PLLC; he also serves as an adjunct professor at the Austin School of Law at the University of Texas. In addition, he’s a member of the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas. (Julia Edinger)


At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the opening for a new round of applications for the ConnectHomeUSA initiative, which aims to help HUD-assisted families get connected to affordable Internet.

The initiative was launched in 2015 as a way to help close the homework gap in 28 pilot communities; it has since expanded to enable 100 communities to participate. Under the expansion announced this week, HUD’s goal is to serve new communities from urban, rural and tribal locations while maintaining support for existing communities in the program. HUD will be accepting applications until Feb. 15, 2024. (Julia Edinger)


Louisiana is officially the first state to get approval for its plans for how to spend the historic broadband funding coming down from the federal government, officials have announced.

Specifically, the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration approved Louisiana's initial proposal for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, which all 50 states have applied for. Total money available through the program totals $42.45 billion, and the goal of it is to get the entire country connected to affordable high-speed Internet.

The money is aimed at going first toward broadband deployment. Once those goals are met, states can use any remaining funds to support high-speed Internet adoption, digital skills training, workforce development and more.

Louisiana's approval comes ahead of the deadline for states to submit their proposals, which is set for Dec. 27.

For its part, the federal government is provided weekly updates on the states of all the applications here. (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.