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What’s New in Digital Equity: NDIA to Relocate Net Inclusion 2024

Plus, Oklahoma is the latest state to launch a broadband listening tour, FEMA is teaming with the New Orleans Library for a digital literacy workshop, and more.

Photo from Net Inclusion 2023 shows the event name on a large tv screen with black background.
Net Inclusion 2023 in San Antonio saw 800 people attend the digital equity event, a significant increase over last year's attendance of 330.
(Zack Quaintance)
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:


An announcement from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) states that the location will be changing next year due to concerns of safety for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Each year, the NDIA hosts the nation’s premiere digital inclusion conference. The event drew record crowds last year, with stakeholders coming together to discuss how to best take advantage of the moment in digital equity.

The Net Inclusion 2024 event was to be held in Chattanooga, Tenn., but 26 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills in various stages in the state Legislature, such as SB 1440, which amends the language on discrimination to exclude transgender individuals, have raised safety concerns.

“Recent developments in the state of Tennessee pose a real threat to members of our community,” NDIA Executive Director Angela Siefer wrote in the announcement. “The safety of our community and staff — including trans and other LGBTQIA+ individuals — is of the utmost importance, and we cannot in good conscience bring people into a place where they would be at risk for just being themselves, nor are we going to ask people to hide their identity in order to participate in our gathering.”

Siefer credits those individuals working to advance digital equity in parts of the country where “detrimental policies” are being passed, and where “democracy is being threatened by reprehensible racism.”

Siefer notes that Chattanooga city leaders and other stakeholders in the community have been very supportive of trans individuals.

The location for Net Inclusion 2024 has not yet been selected, but Siefer says the safety of the diverse NDIA community is a serious consideration in making this decision, and more details are forthcoming.

It is likely that NDIA will select the 2024 event location from the list of 2022 Digital Inclusion Trailblazers. (Julia Edinger)


Yet another state is going on tour to hear what its residents have to say about broadband, and this time it’s Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Broadband Office is heading out on the Let’s Get Digital: Oklahoma Broadband Tour, which will appear (one night only) in 16 cities and towns, the state has announced. The goal is to gather resident input as officials work on a five-year plan aimed at getting the entire state connected to high-speed Internet. The tour starts May 8 and will run through June 23, with “meetings in all four corners and points in-between Oklahoma,” the announcement says. The events will take place at libraries.

The state reports that currently more than 800,000 residents there lack access to reliable high-speed Internet service, which works out to more than 1 in 5 Oklahomans. The state announcement specifically encourages participation from “residents, business owners, farmers and ranchers, leaders, members of tribal communities, and representatives for schools, hospitals, nonprofits, and other community organizations.”

Oklahoma joins an increasing number of states going on tour to get this kind of feedback from residents. With an unprecedented amount of funding heading down to the states from the federal government — for both broadband and digital equity — the momentum to get 100 percent of residents connected has never been stronger.

More information about Oklahoma’s tour — including tour dates — can be found online here. (Zack Quaintance)


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) partnered with state, local and nonprofit agencies to offer a workshop to help people with disabilities prepare for natural disasters. The event, held last week in New Orleans, offered digital literacy training to help people with accessibility needs to learn how to use a computer to access websites that provide important information on how to prepare for, or evacuate in the case of, a natural disaster.

The event highlighted websites like and Both people with accessibility needs and their caretakers were encouraged to attend. Disability specialists were available to answer questions.

The workshop was held at East New Orleans Public Library and was part of Disability Book Week programming. (Julia Edinger)


Texas is also looking for public input on its efforts to get its residents connected to reliable high-speed Internet, doing so through a survey.

Specifically, Texas’ Broadband Development Office is launching the Digital Opportunity Plan: Public Survey to collect information to develop a Texas Digital Opportunity Plan. As the state notes in the survey announcement, creating such a plan is a necessary step to help secure funding from the federal government allocations for broadband and digital equity. The survey is live now and will remain so through June.

As part of the announcement, the Texas Broadband Development Office notes it hopes to complete the plan by fall.

More information can be found here. (Zack Quaintance)


The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has released proposed guidance for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program’s state challenge process.

As part of BEAD — which is one of the mechanisms the federal government is using to disperse a historic amount of funding through states to boost high-speed Internet access nationwide — states are required to create a challenge process. This is something that local government, nonprofits or Internet service providers can use to challenge whether areas are eligible for BEAD funding, typically based on whether said areas already have strong high-speed Internet service.

These new proposed guidelines expand upon previously released guidelines for the BEAD challenge process, and the NTIA is currently looking for feedback on them, which it is asking for by May 5.

More information can be found here. (Zack Quaintance)


The Massachusetts Executive Office of Technology Services and Security is looking to hire a deputy chief digital officer to join the Massachusetts Digital Service.

The Massachusetts Digital Service partners with organizations across state government to improve the government experience with technology, design and data. The deputy chief digital officer will work with the chief digital officer, Devyn Paros.

The position is a hybrid one and the ideal candidate has experience building digital products and holds a bachelor’s degree in the field or equivalent work experience. (Julia Edinger)
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. 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.
Associate editor for <i>Government Technology</i> magazine.