OSB has released the Maryland State Digital Equity Plan- DRAFT, and is requesting comments emailed through December 2, 2023.
The Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition (BDEC) has created an awesome share spreadsheet OSB- Public Comment Collection Spreadsheet where you can enter comments and see the comments of others by section of the plan.
Key portions of the Maryland Digital Equity Plan:
Pg 1-5 Section 1.1 and 1.2: Digital Equity Principles and Barriers (see also Table 1 – covered populations – the state is going to organizing funding around reaching these groups)
Pg. 6-10 Section 1.5: Implementation Plan
Pg 16-18 Section 2.3.1: Strategies for overcoming barriers
Pg 18-30 Section 2.2.3: Objections and performance indicators. NOTE: OSB has listed statewide percentages for each metric, but not provided any baseline numbers to the total improvements in each area, no breakdown by county, and are using data sources that aren’t very granular. And for almost all categories, the plan says the state has a very small digital equity problem.
Pg 32-44 Section 3.1.3: Chart of existing digital equity assets (i.e., programs and organizations) by covered population – if you provide digital equity services, make sure you are in here
Pg 48-54 Section 3.1.3: Chart of digital equity programs (if you run a large digital equity program, make sure you are in here)
Pg 63-76 Section 3.2: Chart listing the obstacles by covered population to achieving: broadband availability, broadband adoption, digital skills, online security, and device adoption.
Pg 69 Section 3.2.1 Covered Populations: The state seems to be stating that they couldn’t find reliable sources of data for Individuals with Language Barriers and Individuals Who Have Low Levels of Literacy, so they aren’t going to speculate. But it’s not clear whether in the charts that follow, the State is capturing the digital equity gap for these populations.
Pg 78-98 Please skim these charts. There are people with skills in statistical analysis who will be weighing in on the Plan. But look at the tables – in most cases the Plan is stating there is 20% gap or less between the covered populations and the rest of the state, i.e., that where 95% of the state has a specific type of digital service/device, 70% to 80% of covered populations have that same service. For example, see Table 33 on page 97 states the percentage of people have a computer or desktop by covered area:
- 92% of higher income compared to 65.7% of lower income people -26.3% differential)
- 89.7% of White compared to 85% of minorities (-4.7% differential)
- 89.1% of people without disabilities compared to 73.7% of people with disabilities (15.4% differential)
- 87.8% for people with English proficiency and 81.2% for English learners (-6.6% differential)
If, in your experience, the groups you serve do not have access to digital equity services and devices at these levels, the State needs to hear from you.
Also, compare the above data with Table 35, 36, and 37 on pages 154-158. These tables provide a breakdown of the number of computers by household by income, race/ethnicity, and at-risk status.
Pg 171 Table 41: Confidence using the internet by household income. There is a similar chart by age on pg 180, but no corresponding charts by race/ethnicity, language barriers, or education level.
Join us for the MDEC Listening session with the State and provide that feedback. If you have time, make comments in the shared spreadsheet provided by BDEC as well. Click here to join the MDEC or share with others.