A new report examines the technology gap in rural areas and identifies ways communities can spur computer donations.
Rural areas in the U.S. struggle to provide residents with broadband internet access and the computers needed to maximize the benefits of online educational and economic resources. Digitunity, a non-profit organization committed to ending the digital divide, has released a commissioned report on the potential causes and solutions to the rural digital divide.
“We know the digital divide has few boundaries. It exists in large coastal cities and small towns in America’s heartland. It affects people across demographics. With this report, we now know more about why that divide exists and how communities can resolve it.”Scot Henley, Executive Director, Digitunity Tweet
Areas with substantial internet access and usage typically have higher levels of economic and community development in comparison to those with lower levels of use. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed in late 2021, dedicated an unprecedented amount of federal funding toward increasing broadband availability and adoption in less connected areas.
Digitunity’s report, written by Oklahoma State University professor, Brian E. Whitacre, discusses the direct correlation between internet access and rural economic development. It also looks in-depth at the issue of device ownership, focusing on nationwide access and usage of large-screen devices recognized as superior to smartphones in the digital equity space.
The three major segments of the report, titled “Status Quo,” “Supply,” and “Support,” cover the socio-demographics impacted, as well as the supply chain processes and support networks working to resolve the digital divide rural communities face. The report’s findings align with Digitunity’s mission and focus on partnership networks.
“Since its inception, Digitunity has operated on the belief that community-based organizations are essential to ending the digital divide. This report clearly defines the problems facing rural communities and how they can work with organizations like Digitunity to foster the solutions to those problems.”Scot Henley, Executive Director, Digitunity Tweet