Digital Equity

Digital equity seeks to ensure all residents and neighborhoods have the information technology capacity needed for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services.  Working toward digital equity involves intentional strategies and investments to reduce and eliminate historical barriers to access and use technology. Digital equity can:

  • Offer better quality of life and empower communities through civic and cultural participation
  • A to connect through social networking and mobile devices
  • Provide everyone the opportunity to use necessary health, consumer, legal, and social services
  • Create educational and economic opportunities that lead to economic success for all residents
  • Clear the way for more self-sufficient residents, community-based organizations, and small businesses

In 2016 the Seattle IT Community Technology program released the Digital Equity Action Plan, which was developed in partnership with more than 100 community leaders, non-profit organizations, companies, and members of the public. The plan calls for the City to focus on three goals for increasing digital equity.

Goal #1: Skills Training

Create and deliver educational opportunities for residents to gain technology skills, be successful in employment, entrepreneurship, lifelong learning, civic engagement, and use of essential online services.

  • Expand digital skills training programs
  • Prepare qualified trainers in tech centers
  • Provide additional resources and support for community-based organizations

Goal #2: Devices and Support

Ensure affordable, available, and sufficient devices and technical support.

  • Increase assistive tech (help those with different abilities) at community sites
  • Increase support for device ownership programs

Goal #3: Connectivity

Ensure sufficient options for affordable and available internet connectivity.

  • Improve high-speed internet infrastructure
  • Improve internet availability to individuals
  • Improve connectivity in public spaces

2016 Action Strategies

The Community Technology team is focused on delivering several action strategies in 2016 that will results in increased internet and device access across Seattle. These strategies include:

  • Expand availability of low-cost devices via equipment refurbishment programs, starting in July 2016
  • Award $320,000 in Technology Matching Funds to support digital equity by August 2016
  • Develop public Wi-Fi plan for disadvantaged and underserved areas by August 2016
  • Deploy or expand free Wi-Fi in 26 Community Centers by December 2016