In Carroll County, MD and beyond, a gap persists between those who have affordable access to technology, digital skills, and support to engage online – and those who do not. This disparity is referred to as the digital divide. As our world becomes increasingly digital, reliable access to technology becomes as essential to connection as roads and forms of transportation. Technology access is how we get people to where things are happening – it’s being able to use ticketing applications to go to a sporting event, confidently being able to use person-to-person payment to send money to family internationally, having a personal device to take a certification test for the job you want or the ability to stream the movie that makes you feel something special. The digital divide prevents interactions among and between communities and prevents participation and opportunity in all areas of life.
We envision a world where economic development is supported by digital skills and technology access; where people can participate in their communities; where individuals can secure and contribute meaningful information. This is digital equity, when all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society.
How will this happen? Well, that’s where the work comes in: digital inclusion. This refers to the activities necessary to ensure communities have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This includes:
- Affordable, robust broadband internet service;
- Internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user;
- Access to digital literacy training;
- Quality technical support;
- Applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation, and collaboration.
The Carroll Technology and Innovation Council is supporting a digitally equitable and prosperous future with programs including the Veterans Transition to Tech program, offering of Senior Planet courses, and device distribution events.
The Veterans Transition to Technology programming is designed to assist in digital equity and inclusion efforts in Maryland by addressing the challenges our veterans face when seeking work and support. With this program, the CTIC provides software and hardware at no cost, workforce training through our partnerships, and digital literacy through our online platform. The success of this program and veterans in the work force begins with hardware.
The Senior Planet programs we deliver are designed around five impact areas: financial security, social engagement, creative expression, health and wellness, and civic participation. These areas represent opportunities in the lives of older adults where technology can have a transformative effect. In essence, the programming invites participants to learn through technology – instead of just having them learn technology for its own merit and without relevant applications integrated into the instruction.
We have put devices in the hands of hundreds of individuals throughout the state of Maryland, and we will continue to create more opportunities for our communities to access technology – stay tuned!
Want to know how digital equity will improve the work your organization is doing? Email email@example.com to find out, and to learn how we can collaborate to support your organization’s work.