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What’s New in Digital Equity: States Continue Broadband Listening Tours

Plus, New York reaches a critical milestone in its ongoing broadband connection efforts; Colorado offers more broadband grants; the NTIA highlights 40 local government digital inclusion resources; and more.

People using computers in a library.
(FlickrCC/Montgomery County Public Libraries)
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:


States are continuing to host listening events, wherein residents have a chance to learn about the ongoing efforts by government to help get every last American connected at home to high-speed Internet.

While a number of states have already announced — and in some cases held — such events, more continue to join the list. Pennsylvania recently announced that it would be holding listening tours, which Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority Executive Director Brandon Carson will be coordinating.

“In today’s world, having access to high-speed Internet is a necessity,” said Carson in a statement. “Pennsylvanians need broadband access for school, work, and to ensure public safety, and it is critical that we close the digital divide across the commonwealth. The more accurate we can make the FCC map, the more we ensure we get a fair allocation of federal funding to expand broadband.”

These sessions come on the heels of the FCC’s recent map update, which essentially gives folks who live in certain areas the chance to accurately convey what the Internet situation is like for them. This comes after years of the FCC relying on maps that used data self-reported by Internet service providers. As Pennsylvania noted in its listening session announcement, the state’s broadband allocations will rely on the new maps, meaning that it is in the interest of residents to accurately convey Internet availability, pricing and speeds in their areas.

All of this and more is slated to be part of the listening tour that Pennsylvania is planning, which has eight scheduled stops in total. A full schedule of this tour can be found on Pennsylvania’s website. And Pennsylvania is not alone.

The state government in Alabama recently announced that it would be holding 67 total county meetings with similar goals. Alabama’s series is slightly less public facing, instead targeting local government and other public stakeholders at the community level as stewards of the drive to get everyone connected.

“This program enables participating counties and jurisdictions within those counties access to the tools that understand broadband gaps and opportunities,” Alabama wrote in its announcement, “which will allow communities to be positioned for increased broadband efforts to address these challenges.”

With a historic and unprecedented amount of money currently making its way from the federal government down to the states, it is likely every state in the country will be holding similar informational event series. (Zack Quaintance)


Last week, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) announced a new resource to help libraries support digital inclusion efforts. The 2022 Digital Inclusion Toolkit was created in partnership with the New York State Library. A report from the American Library Association has deemed public libraries an essential part of closing the digital divide, and the resource from NDIA aims to provide them with the information and tools they need to play this role.

Although it focuses on libraries in the state of New York, the resource provides a blueprint that can be used by any libraries and other organizations. The resource includes information about digital inclusion services, defining community needs, planning programming, partnerships and more. A related webinar was released by NDIA to act as a companion resource and offer tips for how to use the toolkit.

In addition to this resource for libraries, the NDIA also recently released the State Digital Equity Plan Toolkit to help guide states in their digital equity planning processes. Both toolkits can be found on the NDIA website. (Julia Edinger)


The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) — an executive branch federal agency that advises the president on telecommunication policy issues — is compiling a list of local government digital equity resources, the agency has announced.

While the list is not yet available, the stated intention of it is “highlighting a variety of digital equity and inclusion activities occurring in 40 different city and county governments on the Digital Inclusion map on the BroadbandUSA website,” according to the group’s announcement.

Once completed, the site will include a mapped listing of local government digital equity websites, leaders, resources, and published plans. Cities and counties that wish to be featured on this map are asked to contact the NTIA via email at

In the meantime, parties who are interested in finding information about digital equity and inclusion work at the United States can contact the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, which has been the standard-bearer in this effort for years. (Zack Quaintance)


New York state’s ConnectALL office has been awarded $5 million through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program and $2.2 million from the Digital Equity Act program. These funds will be used to help support the state in its creation of broadband deployment and digital equity plans over the coming months.

In addition to supporting planning efforts, the funds will enable the hiring of the state’s inaugural director of digital equity and other staff positions that will help coordinate and support digital equity work in the state. The state will also establish a Digital Equity Interagency Taskforce to convene state agencies and a Broadband Access Advisory Committee to coordinate expertise among key infrastructure agencies, telecommunications companies in the private sector and an expert in tribal affairs. (Julia Edinger)


Colorado continues to support broadband availability and adoption through grant-making, with two recent announcements rolling out from the governor’s office there.

The first announcement is the award of a grant to Colorado, which is netting an additional $5 million from the federal government to prepare for its Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funding program. There is a lot at stake, with BEAD representing the single largest investment by the government ever in broadband. The federal government plans to announce each state’s BEAD allocation on June 30, with the recent $5 million grant being intended to help Colorado make its case for that allocation.

Meanwhile, this month Colorado also announced that it will itself be awarding $171 million from the American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CPF) to help connect households in the state to high-speed Internet. State officials estimate that this investment will directly help to connect about 18,000 currently unserved households to more reliable Internet. (Zack Quaintance)

Finally, the Beeck Center — which is housed at Georgetown University and is one of the academic leaders in supporting government digital service innovation — has posted a new request for proposal (RFP) in search of a partner to help the organization bolster its diversity, equity and inclusiveness.

The Beeck Center writes, “At the Beeck Center, our mission is to improve systems that are the foundation for daily life, using data, design, and technology as instruments for equitable societal change. We understand that to succeed in this mission, we must reflect and grow internally in our understanding of and action toward equity.”

The submission deadline for the RFP is Friday, Dec. 16. (Zack Quaintance)
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.